Boots Management Services Ltd and the PDA Union have reached agreement on a pay deal for Boots pharmacist. The highlight of the pay settlement is that the total payroll cost for those in the Bargaining Unit (excluding Pre-Registration Pharmacists) will be increased by 1.8%.
The deal applies to Boots pre-registration pharmacists, pharmacists (including Relief Pharmacists, Care Services Pharmacists, Advanced Practitioners, and Specialist Practitioners) and pharmacist store managers in the bargaining unit for which PDAU is recognised.
The key points in the settlement are outlined below.
For the 2019/20 pay settlement, Boots have confirmed that all colleagues within the bargaining unit who are substantively appointed and performing in the role will be paid at least within the market range for their role. In 2018 those under the range “minimum” received a 3% pay increase but this could have still theoretically left them paid less than the ‘minimum’ range after pay review. This commitment means the company will pay at least 80% of the market median salary for the role.
Boots have reaffirmed their commitment to providing long-term fulfilling and enriching careers for pharmacists, with the opportunity to develop and progress over time. Boots will commit to enabling pharmacists to better understand the types of considerations that could support their development and pay progression relative to the market range in the future. This was the company’s response in answer to PDAU request that all pharmacists’ salary should be at least the market median rate within 5 years of appointment to that role. Whilst progression through a pay range depends on a number of factors, the PDAU have said they are disappointed that pharmacists do not have a clear pathway to achieve their salary expectations for the role.
Boots have committed to developing further guidance and insight into this important topic. In the worst-case scenario, a pharmacist could work at Boots for their entire career whilst still not securing above-market-median pay. As with several aspects of the pay settlement, the PDAU have said they will be returning to this point in next year’s pay negotiations. Pay review letters will be available to individuals before the November payday. Colleagues will be able to access their letter via the benefits box system on 14/11/2019. The Benefits Box is available here. In previous years some letters were received after the new pay reached individual’s bank accounts and the PDAU wanted to make sure people were told about any changes to their pay in a timely manner.
The market ranges for roles within the bargaining unit will be available on Pharmacy Unscripted in line with the November pay cycle, from which colleagues will be able to calculate their position on the market range. During the recognition ballot process, the company began making pay scales more accessible to pharmacists which is a further benefit of this process. The PDAU have said they encourage all pharmacists to calculate what percentage of the market rate they are being paid. The market rate is the median average that other employers pay for comparative roles across the UK irrespective of individual experience, so being paid below the market median rate means pharmacists are being paid a below-market-average salary against comparable pharmacy employers.
A colleague’s performance rating will reflect their performance. The relative distribution should reflect business performance and individual performance. This means there should be no forced distribution of performance ratings. PDAU has previously drawn attention to the fact that Boots have always denied that forced distribution is applied and any examples given by pharmacists about this are due to company processes not being followed properly.
It is confirmed that holiday pay is calculated to reflect the average actual pay. This means that when a colleague takes their contractual annual leave (including service enhancements but excluding bank holidays), their holiday pay will be supplemented for any overtime (including Extra Duties and Lunchtime Payments) worked during the reference period. The current reference period is the 13 weeks prior to the date of the holiday being taken, which will be updated in line with the forthcoming legislative change in 2020. The supplement is visible on the payslip as “HPSupp”. This means that by claiming for any additional hours that pharmacists work they won’t just be paid for those hours, they will also be increasing their rate of holiday pay.
All company-assigned training should be undertaken during working hours. If this is not possible colleagues will be entitled to receive pay or time owed in lieu for time spent undertaking that training, to be arranged locally in conjunction with the line manager.
A joint working party will be established to review data on equality of pay between colleagues with different diversity characteristics currently recorded, such as age and gender. This means the PDAU will be able to look at the consequences of the company’s approach to pay management and identify any potential areas for detailed analysis before deciding if any action is needed.
The contractual working hours for pre-registration pharmacists only will be harmonised across the UK at 37.5 hours per week, with no loss of pay, to reflect the unique funding arrangements for pre-registration pharmacist salaries. This will mean a reduction of 2.5 hours per week FTE for those who work in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. Standard FTE working hours for newly qualified and other pharmacists will not be affected by this change. Until this pay claim pre-registration pharmacists were for many years required to work 40 hours per week in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, while those in Scotland worked 37.5. This doesn’t just equalise the hours, it also means pre-registration trainees in England, Wales & Northern Ireland will get an extra 2.5 hours per week to study (or whatever else they choose to do with their time). This one-off change to harmonise hours across the UK for pre-registration pharmacists is also equivalent to a 6.7% increase to the hourly rate of pay for English, Welsh and Northern Irish pre-registration pharmacists. Pre-registration pharmacists in Scotland are unaffected by this change as they already enjoy a reduced working week of 37.5 hours.
Commenting on the settlement PDAU Director Paul Day said:
“This pay settlement is a solid start to the improved employee relations we intend to create at Boots to improve the working lives of pharmacists.
“The pay settlement was negotiated by pharmacists for pharmacists and is a significant step forward as PDAU ensure the voice of pharmacists is heard.
“This should also be seen as a call to action for those who have not yet joined the PDA to sign up and build our numbers further so we go into the next pay talks in an even stronger position.”