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Lloydspharmacy: PDA considering ‘legal action’ over redundancy dispute

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) has revealed that it is considering a “legal challenge” over a redundancy dispute concerning Lloydspharmacy staff at Sainsbury’s branches.

C+D exclusively revealed last month that Lloydspharmacy intends to withdraw pharmacy services from all 237 Sainsbury’s stores “over the course of 2023”, although it remains unclear whether the in-store branches will close or be sold.

The PDA previously said it was working “tirelessly to avoid job losses for pharmacists”.

But the pharmacy union said on Friday (February 17) that “ex-Sainsbury’s pharmacists at Lloydspharmacy dispute” the company’s “position on redundancy entitlement”.

Read more: Lloydspharmacy quits Sainsbury’s: What we do (and don't) know so far

It claimed that Lloydspharmacy “is choosing to make hundreds of pharmacists and their teams redundant” and that the multiple has “removed enhanced redundancy benefits for all former Sainsbury’s staff”.

The union is considering available options, which could include a “legal challenge”, it said.

Lloydspharmacy declined to comment.

The multiple previously told C+D that "how colleagues are potentially affected” by its announcement will “vary on a branch-by-branch basis”.

Lloydspharmacy is “working with all colleagues potentially affected by the changes” and intends to “support them through the process”, it said.


Enhanced redundancy entitlement

Pharmacists who transferred from the supermarket to the pharmacy multiple “believe they are entitled to enhanced redundancy compensation if Lloydspharmacy makes them redundant”, the PDA said.

This is based on arrangements made when Sainsbury’s sold its pharmacies to Lloydspharmacy in 2015 and approximately 2,500 employees, including “hundreds of pharmacists”, were “transferred under TUPE legislation to become Lloydspharmacy employees”, it added.

Read more: DH 'assessing potential impact' of Lloydspharmacy Sainsbury's exit

“All Sainsburys staff were entitled to an enhanced redundancy package and this valuable benefit transferred to their new employment at Lloydspharmacy regardless of whether it was written into their employment contract,” the PDA claimed.

However, it said that union members “impacted by the recent decision” by Lloydspharmacy to withdraw from all its Sainsbury’s branches “have contacted the PDA to raise concerns” about their redundancy entitlement.

Read more: Lloydspharmacy confirms closure of Dorset Sainsbury’s branch next month

“The company is telling them [that] ‘enhanced redundancy is not contractual unless specifically written into your contract of employment,’” the PDA claimed.

Without this confirmation, “only minimum statutory redundancy payments will apply”, it said.

PDA “considering the options available”

PDA Union general secretary Mark Pitt said: “After learning that their employer is choosing to make hundreds of pharmacists and their teams redundant, our members are shocked to learn that Lloydspharmacy is now informing them the Sainsburys enhanced redundancy scheme that transferred across no longer applies.”

“The legislation in this area is complex and the PDA legal team is considering the options available to challenge the company’s claim that it removed these enhanced redundancy benefits for all former Sainsburys staff,” he added.

Read more: Well 'confident' it can 'fill gap' left by Lloydspharmacy Sainsbury closures

Lloydspharmacy “always has the option to do what [PDA] members believe is the right thing...regardless of any legal challenge that may follow”, Mr Pitt said.

He urged the multiple’s senior leadership to “reflect upon this decision and commit to pay those former Sainsbury’s staff now being made redundant the enhanced benefits that they believe are due”.

Advice to gather evidence

“Many former Sainsbury’s employees continued to work at the same location, loyally contributing to the Lloydspharmacy business with a belief that should redundancy ever happen to them, they would at least receive the enhanced redundancy benefits that transferred across for everyone,” the PDA said.

PDA members at Lloydspharmacy branches located in Sainsbury’s stores “will receive further communications regarding this issue in due course”, the union added.

It encouraged “impacted members to locate all documents in their possession relating to their employment at Sainsbury’s from around the time of transfer and afterwards”.

Read more: Legal view: What now for Lloydspharmacy services in Sainsbury's?

It comes as the government last week revealed it is assessing the “potential impact” of Lloydspharmacy’s recent announcement that it plans to withdraw from all Sainsbury’s stores.

Lloydspharmacy’s then-parent company, Celesio, bought 281 Sainsbury’s pharmacies – consisting of 277 in-store branches and four hospital pharmacies – for £125 million in July 2015.

Sainsbury’s pharmacies employed "up to 2,500" pharmacy staff at the time, all of whom transferred over to Lloydspharmacy.

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