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Boots pharmacists reminded of legal right to trial period in redundancy situations

In response to concerns from pharmacists employed at Boots, the PDA is reminding employees of their rights when an employer offers alternative work to an employee who is at risk of redundancy.

Thu 27th January 2022 The PDA

The world of work changes constantly, and that means jobs may change too. Job roles evolve with improvements to technology, practice, and other factors. Corporations also evolve with different structures and operating practices. Small changes may be negligible, but sometimes individual changes, or the collective impact of many small changes, make a significant difference to an individual’s job.

Currently at Boots, management are formally consulting with employees about changes to their working patterns which some PDA members have said means a potential reduction in the number of hours in their contract by more than 10%. If implemented that would mean a reduction in pay of the same percentage.

After they have listened to all affected employees the company’s management will need to consider how they may offer working arrangements, involving which pharmacists work where and when, to give individuals the number of hours they need. However, that could involve individuals being asked to work different working patterns and/or at different locations.  Hence these alternative arrangements may constitute a different job.

Pharmacists have the right to have a union representative at some formal meetings and should contact the PDA service centre if they need to arrange this.

Where an employer offers an employee alternative employment within the company, whether a job is “suitable” depends on:

  • how similar the work is to their current job
  • the terms of the job being offered
  • the employees’ skills, abilities, and circumstances in relation to the job
  • the pay (including benefits), status, hours, and location.

What is suitable for one employee may not be suitable for another, even if currently they both do the same job. This can be because of factors relating to each individual’s circumstances such as needing to fit in with childcare responsibilities, or the additional travel required to a new work location from their home.

Employees have the right to a 4-week trial period for any alternative employment they are offered. The 4-week period could be extended if there is a need for training. Any extension must be agreed in writing before the trial period starts.

Pharmacists should urgently contact the PDA service centre if they consider the new job is not suitable because they must formally tell the employer during the trial period, and not wait until the end.

If both company and individual agree a new job is a “suitable alternative” to the previous employment, then the employment continues. If both agree that the new role is not suitable, then unless both agreed the individual can continue in the new role regardless, the individual is eligible for redundancy.

If there is a disagreement between employer and employee about whether the new job is a suitable alternative, then the individual can formally proceed with a grievance with the employer about them either unfairly ending their employment or denying them a redundancy payment, depending on which party thinks the job is suitable and which does not.

Each case depends on its own details and PDA members are advised to contact the service centre to seek advice on their situation.

Read the PDA’s briefing on boots restructures here:

thumbnail of Boots briefing on restructure

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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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