Employment and Professional Support

In employment disputes and professional investigations into fitness to practice, PDA lawyers and pharmacists are on hand to give peace of mind by providing support and advice

Pharmacists, irrespective of which area of work they are engaged in, increasingly find themselves working under pressure in highly regulated pharmacy environments.

Pharmacists can easily find themselves with a dilemma or dispute in their employment, for example where they fall out of favour with their employer or manager. Often, the relationship between a pharmacist and their employer can take a turn for the worse when a pharmacist expresses a concern about professional issues and patient safety, but their employer is more interested in commercial or organisational issues. Routinely, this can turn into a situation where the pharmacist becomes the subject of disciplinary action or where they experience uncompromising management of their performance – which may be dressed up as “support” by the employer. Being involved in disciplinary, grievance or performance management situations can be distressing and can affect the pharmacist’s performance, wellbeing and in numerous cases, their mental health.

On other occasions, pharmacists may find themselves in a situation where they need to raise a grievance because they have been unfairly treated by their employer. They may even find themselves subject to harassment based on religion, race or sex. It is often difficult for pharmacists to be able to judge what to expect from their employer by way of an acceptable standard of behaviour and also what should be reasonably expected of them as individual pharmacists. Some of these issues can be even more confusing for self-employed locums. The PDA has vast experience of all of these matters and many more besides and employs a team of in-house lawyers, pharmacists and paralegals who can ensure you receive the right advice for your specific situation.

In addition, if a pharmacist is reported to the GPhC/PSNI by anyone, for whatever reason, then the regulator is duty bound to investigate. Complaints to the regulator can be vexatious and unexpected. Often the complaints are made by employers and are becoming more and more common.

Pharmacy students and pre-reg graduates are particularly vulnerable to potentially unfair treatment at the hands of employers. Usually, they enjoy no statutory employment protection (because of the duration of their employment) and they can therefore be dismissed with little or even no explanation from an employer. Worse still, in the event that an employer raises fitness to practice concerns about some aspect of their conduct (whether it is real or just convenient), the pharmacy student will face a university-based fitness to practice committee hearing and the pre-reg may find difficulties in completing the pre-registration year.

If these issues affect you, the PDA will:

  • Advise you about your legal employment rights and help to protect those rights, whether you are an employee or self-employed
  • Provide support and legal advice where appropriate if you are reported to the regulator or to your school of pharmacy if you are a student. Often, the support of the PDA at the earliest stages of a regulatory or university-based investigation results in no further action being taken or a case being dropped altogether.
  • In the event of a serious matter where a case proceeds to a full fitness to practice (‘Statutory Committee’) hearing then a legal advocate or even a barrister will be required to argue any defence or mitigation. One of the important membership benefits is the provision of up to £500,000 legal defence costs insurance. This means that members can rely on significant support.
  • Wherever possible, the PDA will always act in a way that aims to defend your reputation.

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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