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Pharmacists report being victims of ‘wage theft’

The PDA has received reports from members that some employers are not paying the full amount pharmacists are entitled to under their contract.

Fri 18th August 2023 The PDA

‘Wage theft’ is the generic term for the denial of wages or employee benefits rightfully due to a worker, such as underpaying the contractual pay rate, not paying for all hours worked, or not paying an individual their full holiday entitlement. It can also include where a pharmacy contractor withholds payment for services provided by a locum.

Employment or locum contracts may vary, and pharmacists should always keep a copy of their own contract. The contract should set out rates of pay and what is required to earn that pay. If further work is required by the employer, then this should be paid in accordance with the contract or by an agreement made above and beyond the original contract.

Recent examples of wage theft brought to the attention of the PDA include:

  • Trainee pharmacists being ‘required’ to work regular unpaid overtime. Trainees are generally considered supernumerary, with the grant contributing towards the cost of their training. If a trainee agrees to work extra hours, they should be paid overtime according to their contract.
  • Locums not being paid for their shifts. The PDA frequently helps locums secure outstanding debt owed by pharmacy contractors for shifts worked. One recent case saw a locum secure £8,000 which an employer had refused to pay before the PDA intervened. So far this year, the PDA has helped locum members recover more than £65,000 owed to them.
  • Pharmacists are told they must undertake, in their own time, the necessary training to enable them to deliver services for their employer. This is despite NHS funding for services typically incorporating an amount to cover the cost of staff training.
  • Trainees discovering when they arrive at their placement, that their employer intends to make deductions from their wages. Trainees are generally young people at the beginning of their careers and experiencing their first full-time job. Trainees can feel vulnerable and less confident in exercising their employment rights because it will be their designated supervisor who determines if they complete their training successfully and that same person may also be their manager or employer.

Pharmacists working in any sector can, unfortunately, find themselves falling victim to wage theft.  This year employers against which the PDA has started claims for unlawful deduction of wages include the NHS, large and smaller pharmacy multiples, and some independent contractors.

These are just a few recent examples and they collectively demonstrate why individuals need to be part of an organisation that can help them challenge such dishonest behaviours.

Mark Pitt, PDA Director of Defence Services and PDA Union General Secretary said, “It is simply unacceptable that pharmacists are having to fight to recover money they are legitimately owed by employers and pharmacy contractors, particularly at a time where there is a cost-of-living crisis.

Notwithstanding that some pharmacies are under financial pressure, employers have strict legal and contractual obligations towards pharmacists, which must be honoured.”

Not yet a PDA member?

If you have not yet joined the PDA, we encourage you to join today and ask your colleagues to do the same.

Membership is FREE to pharmacy students, trainee pharmacists and for the first three months of being newly qualified.


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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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