Photo: George Wood/Getty Images

Retail giant Morrisons has been forced into a climbdown after its decision to deny pharmacy staff a £500 Covid bonus from the Scottish government sparked a backlash.

Within just hours after Pharmacy Business reported on Feb 18 that the Pharmacists’ Defence Association had raised concerns with the supermarket about its members in Scotland complaining that the payment was being blocked, a representative at Morrisons issued a statement only to have the original decision reversed.

“We’ve taken another look at the arrangements put in place by the Scottish Government to pay a one off ‘thank you’ to every NHS and social care worker, and can now confirm that we will process these Government payments directly to eligible Morrisons colleagues,” it said, adding: “We would again like to confirm that we’re incredibly proud of the full part played by all our key workers, who continue to make a truly incredible contribution in these very challenging circumstances.”

Rules around the pandemic bonus scheme meant that pharmacists working for the supermarket could not receive the £500 payment directly from the Scottish government.

Instead all claims needed to be made via the employer but Morrisons decided to opt out of the scheme saying it had already agreed to boost staff bonuses and that pharmacy workers would not be receiving the top-up.

While the PDA is pleased with the retailer’s U-turn, it is “currently awaiting confirmation from Community Pharmacy Scotland as to whether any of its other members intend to block the payment to their pharmacists.”

If you want to share your stories and/or experiences with us, please send an email to [email protected]