Following the decision of IfA Council to discontinue making compliance with minimum salary recommendations an absolute requirement of Registered Organisation status, herbal FAME is publishing this statement to set out its position on the issue:

FAME exists to represent the views of employers and managers of archaeological organizations with the primary objective of carrying out commercially-funded and/or grant-aided archaeology.

Its objectives include

  • To promote best professional practice in employment, fieldwork and publications, and archiving, and
  • To promote training and professional development to improve standards within the profession

Clearly, these objectives are inseparably linked to wider aspirations of both maintaining and improving salary levels across the sector and promoting a culture of staff retention and development.

Not only are these essential for the wellbeing of our profession, but they also make sound business sense.

We welcome the IfA decision to publish indicative salary levels. We understand that there has been objection on constitutional grounds to IfA determining binding salary levels, rather than to their objective of improving pay levels within the sector.

Not all FAME members are Responsible Post-Holders in the IfA Registered Organisations (RO) scheme, and FAME cannot compel its members to meet IfA recommended salary levels. However we strongly encourage our members both to join the RO scheme and to meet IfA recommended salary levels – and we believe that most FAME members already do so.

In an unregulated market it remains difficult for archaeological practices to hold the line on recommended salary levels. The pressure to win contracts at the lowest cost drives down salaries and squeezes margins and non-salary expenditure on other essential costs such as training and development.

We propose to explore more balanced procurement models for development-led archaeology in the UK, based less on crude price-driven competition than on quality, outcome and value. We will shortly be publishing a paper on this issue.

It must also be remembered that salary forms only one part (albeit the main one) of an employment package, and it is important that any comparison of employment conditions takes fully into account the provision of other non-salary benefits.

We note that IfA Council ‘has instructed its working party, taking advice from Prospect and FAME, to develop a policy statement that sets out IfA’s belief that the problem of low pay has the potential critically to impact on professional standards and is one which the industry must take collective ownership of and accept collective responsibility for solving’, and that it must ‘engage with FAME to see what information from (IfA) would encourage or enable it to take a more proactive role in pay determination’.

Last year FAME accepted an invitation to join the IfA Salaries Working Party. It did so a spirit of constructive engagement, and to provide a voice for employers on what has in the past been seen by some of its members as a non-inclusive process. We share IfA’s aspiration to improve salary levels across the profession, and remain willing to engage with it in exploring alternative ways to achieve this objective.