Pay and bonus update at Boots

Despite missing company financial goals last year, Boots have unexpectedly announced that a proportion of the discretionary annual bonus scheme will be paid to “bonus-eligible” employees, which includes pharmacists, in respect of their contribution in the year up to August 2020. The last trading year was an extremely difficult time for Boots’ employees to have achieved targets due to the pandemic and the PDA welcome this decision.

Fri 6th November 2020 The PDA

The PDA Union are formally recognised to negotiate pay for pharmacists, pre-registration pharmacists and pharmacist store managers below a certain grade. Discretionary bonuses are not negotiated, however the company are committed under the PDA Union-Boots agreement to inform the union in advance of such discretionary payments to pharmacists. They have now also communicated the details to all those employees in scope of the bonus rules.

Meanwhile, the annual pay review for Boots’ pharmacists should normally take effect on 1 November each year with almost all pharmacists receiving a salary increase. This year, despite the PDA Union negotiating team submitting a detailed pay claim in June explaining the rationale for why employees should get an increase and receive an acknowledgement of the extraordinary contributions made by pharmacists, the company have so far insisted that they will apply a pay freeze.

The company’s position on pay has been that while salary increases add to their costs, non-consolidated payments do not. This is evidenced by the significant level of shareholder dividends which have not just continued, but have been increased, despite the trading challenges. PDA negotiators, therefore, amended the “pay increase” aspect of the pay claim to seek a non-consolidated payment which could reward pharmacists without the fixed cost of their salaries being increased.

It is clear that some of the same arguments the PDA union negotiating team have been making regarding the need to reward members for their commitment and professionalism during the pandemic, and the decision to counter propose a non-consolidated one-off payment as an alternative to an increase in pay, are reflected in the decision to pay the bonus.

However, the decision to pay a bonus was a unilateral company decision outside of the negotiating framework and relating to last year. The 2020 pay negotiations for the current year remain unresolved and the PDA negotiators continue to represent the pharmacists’ case. In the absence of an agreement, the independent Arbitration and Conciliation Service (ACAS) have now been invited by both parties to help reach an agreement and the talks will continue shortly.

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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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