PDA warn employers against attempting bank holiday “Wage Theft” – POST UPDATED

The PDA Union is warning pharmacy employers that they could face legal action if they attempt “wage theft” from pharmacists.

Wed 8th April 2020 PDA Union

The PDA has received several reports from members that employers are suggesting that they will only pay flat rate hourly pay to pharmacists for working the Easter bank holidays, even where the employment contract clearly entitles the employee to higher rates for bank holiday working.

Such action would be classed as Wage theft, the generic term for denial of wages or employee benefits rightfully owed to an employee, such as underpaying the contractual pay rate or not paying an individual their full holiday entitlement.

Employment contracts may vary between employers, and employees should always keep a copy of their own contract. If the contract says an employee will be paid a higher rate for working hours on a bank holiday than that is the entitlement.

In England the NHS has, on very short notice, required community pharmacies to open for several hours on Good Friday and Easter Monday.  There was initially* no extra funding from government for this arrangement and the sector is already struggling after years of cuts to the NHS pharmacy contract.

The PDA believes the government should be more supportive but the employment contract between employer and pharmacist is entirely separate to the employer’s contract with the NHS. If employers agree the NHS funding is insufficient they should take that up with the NHS, not try and steal the wages of their hardworking employees.

Paul Day, Director of the PDA Union said “We will support members that are the victims of wage theft. We understand that pharmacies are under financial pressure and we are publicly calling on government to provide the funds the sector needs and deserves BUT, just like health and safety at work, regardless of what the government does or does not do, the employers still have legal and contractual obligations to their employees which must be honoured

If an employer wants to avoid higher costs, they’d be sensible to consider the administrative, management and legal costs they’ll incur to defend legal claims from our members who have suffered unlawful deductions from their wages and understand that when we win such cases they will have to give their employees the wages there were entitled to anyway

Clearly no such wage theft has yet occurred as pharmacists will only know for certain what pay they have received once they are provided with their next salary.  Any PDA members who discover that they have been underpaid for the bank holidays, or at any other time, should contact the PDA office without delay.

*Extra funding was agreed less than 48 hours before Good Friday see PSNC announcement [This post updated 9 April] 

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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