Boots pharmacists prepare for 2021 pay talks

PDA members at Boots are preparing for the 2021 pay talks with the company in the expectation of a far better deal than last year after the company formally recognised there is a potential crisis of recruitment and retention due to reasons including insufficient rates of pay.  

Thu 17th June 2021 PDA Union

Last year Boots’ management refused to provide a universal pay increase to all pharmacists, even after the internal pay talks were escalated to  the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).  While the talks resulted in the ending of lower pay rates for pharmacists in Northern Ireland and some other improvements, the lack of a universal increase was extremely disappointing for the profession.

In preparation for this year’s pay talks the PDA negotiators are currently undertaking a survey of the view of members towards company pay (sent to all PDA members at Boots via email) and the union has also launched a ready reckoner tool to assist union members at Boots in understanding where their pay currently sits in comparison to “market rates”.  PDA members have used the online tool to understand the level of their pay and many have been disappointed to find that the company pays them below average pay despite many years of loyal service at a company that still claims in job adverts that it provides “highly competitive salary”.

However, the PDA welcome the acknowledgement by Boots and other employers, in a report on behalf of all major community pharmacy employer organisations published this month, that inadequate pay is an issue that needs to be addressed.  The report states that: “Reasons cited for colleagues leaving the profession are complex and multifaceted. They include concerns about pay, excessive workload and pressure, inflexible working hours, and a lack of opportunities for career progression.   You can read the PDA initial response to the employers’ report.

With this very public acceptance that there are serious issues of recruitment and retention of community pharmacists, with inadequate pay being top of the list of causes, union members at Boots hope this means that this year the company will be prepared to agree a pay increase that surpasses inflation to begin to fix the many years of below inflationary increases that have made real terms cuts to pharmacist pay. Hourly rates of pay are also impacted by the hours worked and the PDA recently published guidance on breaks.

The union is therefore also pleased to see company spokesperson Marc Donovan commit Boots to encouraging pharmacists “to take their full allocation of breaks.” and if this further public commitment is also honoured, with enough other staff scheduled in each pharmacy to cope with the workload, that could also help address the issues of excessive workload and pressure.

Mr Donovan also went on to recognise that pharmacists “..have been at the front line of healthcare during the pandemic, working harder than ever in the service of their patients.”  Boots pharmacists now expect the company’s approach to the 2021 pay talks to reflect Mr Donovan’s public statements and for their efforts to be recognised through improvements to their pay.  Actions speak louder than words.

The pharmacist pay talks at Boots will occur over the summer with the aim of securing a 1 November implementation of improved pay for all pharmacists.

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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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