We've put together a list of FAQ's for students to help address any questions you may have whilst undertaking your practical experience during the pandemic. Please note that the answers below do not constitute legal advice but are based upon available UK government published guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme at the time of writing.
Q: Can I still record my professional experience on the RIBA PEDR if I have been furloughed by my employer?
A: If you are on furlough (the UK’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme) then you cannot undertake fee earning/project work for your employer during this time. You can undertake training, or volunteer subject to public health guidance, so long as you’re not making money for, or providing services to, your employer. You will be able to backdate any outstanding PEDRs up until the time of your furlough beginning, subject to your PSA’s approval if one of your record sheets will be shorter than the standard 3 months. Whilst you would not be able to undertake, and therefore unable to record, any participant project hours, you can potentially complete CPD and record this in the Activities section on PEDR. You could also undertake research for your own knowledge or interest relating to your studies.
Additionally, ask your mentor if you can observe projects which are continuing in the practice, and record this in the ‘observer’ category on your PEDR. You may have the opportunity to experience different projects this way and gain valuable insights into how the practice manages the change in workload. It is also worth remembering that the standard minimum required hours to record experience on PEDR is 20 hours per week.
Q: How will being on furlough affect the other aspects of my Part 3 submission?
A: Part 3 examiners are experienced architects who recognise the impact that economic downturns have on Part 3 candidates. Credit will be given to candidates who use their time effectively to develop and expand their knowledge. If your case study project has stopped, or you are mid-way through preparing your personal evaluation, then consider writing about the current situation and its impact on your practice – from projects to staffing, and from contract management to working with suppliers and co-professionals.
Q: Work on my case study project has halted and I don’t know when it will start again. How can I best continue with my case study?
A: There is no requirement for a project to be complete in order to use it for a case study. You could reflect on the contractual implications of COVID-19. You could also see if there are other projects in the practice that you could use for comparative purposes.
Q: I am now working from home like everyone else in my practice. Some aspects of experience like site visits will be missing from my projects. Are there implications for this in the long term?
A: Students are not expected to cover all aspects of a project, particularly during their year out. Ask your mentor if you can observe on other projects that may be progressing. You can use your reflective experience summary to consider the impact of the current situation on your own experience and on your practice, the support you are receiving and changes you are making to the way you are managing your work etc.
Q: I have been made redundant and I am considering working freelance whilst I seek alternative employment. What are the implications for recording my experience?
A: In order to record your experience, you must be supervised by a qualified professional. The supervising professional should have responsibility for and control over the work being undertaken. Where the mentoring relationship is not typical, for example where you are self-employed, you will need to satisfy your PSA that the level and type of supervision is appropriate. In support of your case, your PSA may want to see evidence of an agreement between you and your supervisor, setting out how the arrangement will work, how regularly you will meet, and what the ‘supervision’ will consist of. Whatever the circumstances, your supervisor is expected to have a close working relationship with you. You also need to consider the issue of liability and insurance.
You could consider contacting another local practice or sole practitioner to discuss the potential of running your jobs under their supervision or in collaboration with them; or looking for part time work within a practice which will allow you to cover areas which may be missing from your own individual practice work.
If you have any more questions, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We recommend that all employees understand their employment rights, not just at times like these. ACAS is a useful source of information.