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Advice for Boots pharmacists threatened with dismissal following ET Judgment

A recent Employment Tribunal decision found that Boots Management Services Ltd had acted unlawfully when it cut premium pay by 25% for long serving pharmacists.

Fri 8th June 2012 PDA Union

A recent Employment Tribunal decision found that Boots Management Services Ltd had acted unlawfully when it cut premium pay by 25% for long serving pharmacists.

Following the legal ruling from the Employment Tribunal, we fully expected Boots to reinstate the contractual position of all pharmacists affected. They have however taken, what we believe to be, the  bizarre step of refusing to make good the unlawful deductions of pay for everyone and it appears that they will only make payments to those who had brought legal proceedings or those that had raised a grievance. Boots are of the view that those who had not taken any such action had in fact agreed to the deductions to their pay..

Our legal team have submitted 140 new claims from this group seeking to benefit from the Judgment and a Judge will soon determine if these individuals did agree to the deductions in deciding not to bring legal proceedings against the company. We are optimistic that the Judge will be of the opinion that none of the claimants accepted the change to their pay particularly for those members who raised grievances which the Judge has already stated was evidence of non-acceptance.

Regrettably, in the past week a number of PDA Union members have been called to what the company have described as “informal meetings” by senior managers at very short notice. The purpose of the meeting is to pressurise pharmacists into agreeing to accept a reduction in the rate of premium pay with the threat that they will be dismissed if they do not agree. As Boots will be required to evidence agreement to the change for the proceedings involving the 140 new claimants which currently they do not have, they are effectively trying to obtain agreement now so they can put this before the Tribunal.

We believe that Boots will need to obtain the agreement to the change for all 1,700 pharmacists who were originally entitled to the higher rates of premium pay, with the same threat of dismissal.

The PDA Union believe that the company are using bullying tactics to achieve these changes; however a company spokesperson has denied that the company is engaging in such tactics.  Regrettably members are reporting that they are being put under pressure to agree to new less favourable terms and do feel bullied by the company’s approach. We urge our members to remain strong in the face of such behaviour.

PDA Union Advice

Pharmacists are advised not to agree to the new terms and conditions or sign revised statements of particulars at this “informal meeting”.  In order to comply with employment legislation the company must follow a proper process which entitles employees to be represented on an individual basis at a series of meetings or in certain circumstances, on a collective basis by their Union. 

  • At the “informal meeting” pharmacists should clarify what the dismissal process will be and how long it will take.  Ignore any demands to make decisions within 7 days as this timescale is wholly unreasonable. An exercise like this should take months to allow for proper and meaningful consultation.
  • At the end of the meeting indicate that you will be taking legal advice.  If you consider that you are being subjected to harassment, intimidation and victimisation as a consequence of taking action against the company or raising a grievance about unlawful withholding of pay and or discrimination, then you should state this at the meeting.  At the end of the meeting email the manager and set out what you understand to be the content of the discussion and demands made of you; ask for confirmation of receipt. Ensure that any documents sent and received are copied to the PDA Union as soon as possible.
  • In order to prove a dismissal is fair, the company must have a legitimate business objective and use proportionate means to achieve it.  We believe that the company will not find it easy to meet either of these tests in court and is therefore vulnerable to claims for unfair dismissal.  We are also aware that the company is promulgating misleading information from the ET judgement stating that the judge agreed that Boots had a legitimate business reason for making the changes.  This interpretation is incorrect as the judge did not scrutinise the company’s business case during the hearing and in response to the Claimants’ argument that Boots did not have a business rationale made a comment that Boots had “a rationale for making the changes” rather than giving any indication it was a legitimate one or would stand up to further analysis.
  • Pharmacists who decline to accept the new terms at the “informal meeting” may be invited to a formal meeting to discuss matters further.  Pharmacists should not attend these meetings without contacting the PDA Union first and arranging representation if available.
  • Pharmacists have clear protection under the law from being victimised for exercising their statutory rights, such as raising a legitimate grievance or complaining about being discriminated against.  Employment tribunals will not tolerate employers who are found to behave in such a manner.
  • Pharmacists should not be concerned that by declining to agree to the new terms and conditions at the informal meeting that they will automatically face dismissal.  The company is obliged to follow a proper process to expand on its reasons for imposing the changes and consider individual circumstances before terminating employment.  Pharmacists are able to reserve their final decision until very late in the process without any detriment to their position. Anyone who is informed that they will be dismissed if they do not agree to accept the changes should state that if they are dismissed, they will consider themselves to have been unfairly dismissed and will bring a claim for unfair dismissal in the Employment Tribunal. They must also insist that their employer makes a written record of their objection so the company cannot possibly argue that there has been any indication of agreement to the change.

Members should regularly check their emails and this website for further advice and rest assured that we will be doing everything we can to prevent dismissals from happening and challenging the fairness of any dismissals that do occur through legal action. 



The Pharmacists' Defence Association is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England; Company No 4746656.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is an appointed representative in respect of insurance mediation activities only of
The Pharmacy Insurance Agency Limited which is registered in England and Wales under company number 2591975
and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Register No 307063)

The PDA Union is recognised by the Certification Officer as an independent trade union.

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