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'Around a hundred’ ex-Lloydspharmacy Sainsbury’s staff in redundancy dispute

“Around a hundred” ex-Sainsbury's Lloydspharmacy workers have put their names to a collective grievance about redundancy terms, C+D has learned.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA) told C+D yesterday (June 13) that the union is representing “around a hundred'' staff who were employed at Lloydspharmacy branches based in Sainsbury’s stores.

But while this is the number who have put their names to a collective grievance around redundancy terms, the outcome will impact many more staff, PDA director Paul Day said.

Read more: All Sainsbury’s Lloydspharmacy branches to close by tomorrow, chain confirms

He stressed that while the PDA only gets information about its union “bargaining unit” – which only includes pharmacists – the 237 closed branches would likely have needed 1,000-2,000 non-pharmacist staff who are also affected by the closures.

It comes after C+D exclusively revealed this week (June 12) that all Lloydspharmacy branches in Sainsbury’s stores would be closed as of yesterday.

 

Alternative roles?

 

Mr Day said that affected pharmacy workers will be leaving the employment of Lloydspharmacy, unless they have secured “an alternative role” at the multiple.

Workers who have finished any “close down” tasks in the closing branch and who have not yet completed their notice period may either be asked to temporarily help at a nearby Lloydspharmacy branch or be put on “garden leave” until their notice expires, he added.

Read more: Lloydspharmacy rejects ex-Sainsbury’s staff enhanced redundancy claims

These notice periods will “vary depending on an individual’s length of service”, he told C+D. 

Mr Day added that an employee is “technically” redundant only at the end of the final day of their notice period.  

 

Lloydspharmacy “supporting all colleagues affected”

 

Lloydspharmacy declined to answer C+D's questions regarding how many pharmacists and pharmacy technicians had been made redundant, how many had been absorbed by other stores, or when the appeal to the collective grievance submitted by ex-Sainsbury’s workers would be published.

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

Instead, a spokesperson for Lloydspharmacy yesterday said that since its January announcement it would withdraw services from all Sainsbury’s stores, it “has been working hard to support all colleagues affected by the process”.

“In doing so, Lloydspharmacy has ensured that it is acting responsibly and equitably towards all colleagues impacted by the change,” the spokesperson told C+D.

 

Collective grievance appeal

 

In May, C+D reported that Lloydspharmacy had decided not to uphold a grievance from ex-Sainsbury’s employees.

According to Mr Day, the collective grievance involves workers that were previously employed by Sainsbury’s prior to Lloydspharmacy’s 2015 takeover and who continued on at the pharmacies after the takeover. 

Read more: Lloydspharmacy defends position amid Sainsbury’s redundancy row

The workers argued that they are entitled to enhanced redundancy compensation according to the terms of their TUPE transfer after Sainsbury’s sold its pharmacy business to Lloydspharmacy in 2015, rather than the statutory minimum offered by the multiple, he said.

But on May 10, the multiple determined that ex-Sainsbury’s staff did not have a contractual right to enhanced redundancy payments.

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

With the initial collective grievance rejected, the PDA has now “supported an appeal” to the ruling, according to a PDA newsletter sent to pharmacists on May 11.

The letter said that this appeal is the “last stage of the process available within the company” and if rejected, any “further action” would need to be “via the courts” such as an employment tribunal.

The PDA said it would “provide further advice about this option in due course”.

 

“Deeply worrying”

 

Mr Day told C+D that the decision to close the 237 branches “means that over 1% of the entire UK community pharmacy branch network has been removed at once”. 

“This has consequences not just for patients and communities, but also for the remaining parts of the sector,” he said. 

Read more: UPDATED: Lloydspharmacy: Kevin Birch steps back from operational role as CEO

Displaced patients who previously utilised the closed branches will mean “workload will now be redistributed” among other local pharmacies, he added.

“Already busy teams in some geographies may be asking where the extra resources and physical space required will be coming from for them to safely and effectively add that work to their existing volumes,” Mr Day said.

Read more: PDA issues advice as Lloydspharmacy moves ahead with divestment process

Dr Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp), said that member pharmacies had been preparing for the closures “as far as is practical”.

But she added that with “insufficient” core funding and the cost of medicines “rising faster than category M pays us back”, AIMp members can’t afford extra staffing “to manage what will be sudden and unprofitable extra dispensing volume”.

Read more: Revealed: Locations of Lloydspharmacy branches bought by Rowlands

And Community Pharmacy England’s (CPE) – formerly known as PSNC – chief executive Janet Morrison this week described the closures as “deeply worrying and one of the clearest signals yet of just how much community pharmacies are struggling to make ends meet”.

“Other pharmacies locally will be braced for even more pressures as they try to cope with the increased demand and extra patients – but in their current fragile state, some pharmacies may simply not be able to cope with this,” she said, calling for an urgent “funding uplift”. 

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