The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA)’s pay negotiations on behalf of its members working for Boots will take place this week. The association has set out 12 points following the feedback received from its members in annual pay and condition survey, covering pay growth, fairness and work/life balance.

This is the first of a number of meetings to take place during the summer aimed at reaching an agreement in time for an increase to be paid from November 01 2021.

More than 1,000 members participated in PDA’s annual pay and conditions survey. Many concerns were raised by the members about pay. 

Paul Moloney, PDA Union National Officer, thanked members for completing the survey. He said: “It is always important that we are able to demonstrate that we are reflecting the views of members and with such a high response rate no one can deny this claim is the claim members have shaped and supported.”

According to the survey, 84 per cent of pharmacists do not understand or are unhappy with their reward package; 97 per cent of them would be unhappy or find it unacceptable if no pay increase were awarded this year; 84 per cent supported an RPI +2 per cent increase for this year or a multi-year agreement of inflation plus increases over the next 3 years.

Whereas 85 per cent have little or no idea on how to progress their salary through the market range; 84 per cent are not aware that they can request an in-year salary review; 94 per cent believe experience should be reflected in salary; and 99 per cent expressed the view that a premium should be paid for working on a bank holiday.

As a result of this feedback, the PDA Union has produced a detailed, evidence-based and objectively benchmarked claim calling for an increase of inflation plus 2 per cent for this year and, in response to the clear support from members for a multi-year deal, the alternative of a 3 year deal with increases of inflation plus 2 per cent in year one and inflation plus 1.5 per cent in years two and three.

Paul Moloney commented: It remains to be seen how the company responds to the concept of a multi-year deal, but it is quite clear from the feedback from members that a repeat of last year would be completely unacceptable. The company needs to have in place a strategy to ensure the purchasing power of members’ pay starts to catch up with what has been lost not just last year but in preceding years. Our claim is a serious attempt to assist the company in this.

In total the PDA’s claim includes the following 12 points covering pay growth, pay fairness and work/life balance issues raised during the consultation.

  1. To reduce the erosion of pharmacists’ salaries an increase of RPI + 2% in FY2021/22. The feedback received from the bargaining unit showed enthusiasm for a multi-year deal, so we would be keen to discuss this option (RPI +1.5% FY2022/23 and RPI+1.5% FY2023/24).
  2. To continue the differential set by Boots in August 2020 for those pharmacists that qualified in Aug 2019. All pharmacists should receive a £1000 increment on August 1st in the year following registration. This should retrospectively include pharmacists who entered the provisional register in August 2020 and subsequently the full register in April 2021.
  3. In line with pay progression principles, all pharmacists who have been in role 2 years+ should have their current salary reviewed.
  4. In areas where location enhancements are being paid to encourage recruitment, a location ‘retainer’ should be paid to current Boots pharmacists to encourage retention.
  5. Pharmacists should receive a payment of £300 for completing new and subsequent refresher training e.g. Gateway.
  6. The threshold hours at which Extra Duty (ED) will be paid at premium rate should be reduced to 40 hours. There would be no change to the current guidance for pharmacists whose employment started before August 2007.
  7. All time worked beyond threshold limit should be paid at contracted premium rate. This would include designated company training which cannot be completed during work time.
  8. In line with the Company Pay Progression Principles, a salary review should be undertaken for all pharmacists at 5-year intervals. This would not exclude an individual pharmacist from requesting an interim review.
  9. A premium payment of x1.5 for working on a bank holiday.
  10. Pharmacists should be notified which bank holidays they will be expected to work when holidays are confirmed by PDP.
  11. Pharmacists should be notified 12 weeks in advance of the bank holiday of the location of the store they will be working in.
  12. Pharmacists should not be placed in an unfamiliar store on a bank holiday.

PDA said: “Members are reminded this is the claim for improvements. The company will respond in due course with its proposals.”

Paul concluded: “We have set out a claim that reflects members’ views, is fair and evidenced-based. We hope the company will make an offer that reflects the need to address the issues we have raised and with the intention of reaching an early agreement.”

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