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Lloydspharmacy defends position amid Sainsbury’s redundancy row

Lloydspharmacy has defended its position following threats of “collective action” over a redundancy dispute concerning Lloydspharmacy staff at Sainsbury’s branches.

Last month, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) revealed that it was considering a “legal challenge” after it said that the multiple had “removed enhanced redundancy benefits for all former Sainsbury’s staff” now working for Lloydspharmacy.

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

Pharmacists who transferred from the supermarket to the pharmacy multiple under TUPE legislation in 2016 “believe they are entitled to enhanced redundancy compensation if Lloydspharmacy makes them redundant”, the PDA said at the time.

It comes after C+D exclusively revealed in January that Lloydspharmacy will withdraw its pharmacy services from all 237 Sainsbury’s stores over the course of this year.

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

Read more: Lloydspharmacy: PDA considering ‘legal action’ over redundancy dispute

But Lloydspharmacy told C+D yesterday (March 1) that it believes pharmacists who transferred to the multiple after the supermarket branches were purchased were only “entitled to benefit from the Sainsbury’s redundancy policy for a period of 12 months” after the deal went through.

A spokesperson said that “this was clearly communicated to all colleagues at the time of transfer”.

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

“The policy was non-contractual, meaning it did not form part of their terms and conditions of employment and was superseded in 2020 with the McKesson UK redundancy policy,” they added.

 

Lloydspharmacy will “consider” redundancy package

 

However, despite citing the contractual loophole regarding the disputed redundancy terms, the multiple has not ruled out “considering the terms of the redundancy package” offered to affected individuals, the spokesperson said.

They told C+D that Lloydspharmacy is consulting with Sainsbury’s staff “who are potentially at risk of redundancy”.

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

“Meaningful consultation will include considering the terms of the redundancy package that will be offered to them, if redundancy becomes the only possible outcome,” they said. 

The spokesperson added that Lloydspharmacy is “working hard to ensure that colleagues impacted by its withdrawal from Sainsbury’s branches are treated fairly and consistently, across all potentially affected branches”.

 

Collective action

 

Meanwhile, the PDA yesterday reiterated that the union’s affected members “dispute” the multiple’s position on the redundancy terms.

After taking “expert legal opinion on this issue”, the PDA said it intends to “support collective action by members impacted by this dispute”, which C+D understands could take the form of legal claims.

The union added that “members who wish to be part of such action will be asked to confirm their employment start date at Sainsbury’s, their age on their potential date of redundancy from Lloydspharmacy and their current annual salary”.

They should “ensure they have that information to hand”, it advised.

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

PDA Union director Paul Day told C+D: “Sometimes an employer thinks one thing about entitlements and employees think another, and that’s why we have employment tribunals, courts, etc, which can review the facts and reach a decision based on evidence and the law.

“We work hard on behalf of pharmacists to resolve disputes before they reach that point, but sometimes asking the law to decide becomes the only way to reach a conclusion.”

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