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‘Hugely disappointed’: Lloydspharmacy rejects Sainsbury’s redundancy appeal

The multiple has turned down an appeal by ex-Sainsbury’s Lloydspharmacy workers against its decision to reject their claim for enhanced redundancy pay, it has said.

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) led the workers in their claim that they should receive enhanced redundancy benefits in line with the terms of their employment to Sainsbury’s, before the supermarket chain sold its pharmacy business to Lloydspharmacy.

But the multiple this week confirmed that it will instead offer only statutory benefits to workers that will be made redundant.

Read more: Lloydspharmacy 'named and shamed' in government minimum wage probe

Lloydspharmacy conveyed its decision in a June 26 letter to the ex-Sainsbury’s workers, maintaining its position that they “do not have a contractual right” to enhanced redundancy payments.

It argued that a 2015 HR policy outlining entitlement to enhanced redundancy benefits was “not a contractual document”.

The appeal - heard by Lloydspharmacy CFO Mark Coupland - is the final internal remedy available to the workers, according to the PDA.

Read more: Well Pharmacy reveals it has taken on ‘a number of’ ex-Lloydspharmacy staff

“There has been no ongoing practice of paying enhanced redundancy pay since 2020, when it was expressly revoked after collective consultation,” Mr Coupland said in the letter explaining the decision.

“I appreciate that my decision will be disappointing for staff, but (other than those who have the express wording in their contracts of employment) staff do not have a contractual right to enhanced redundancy pay and Lloydspharmacy will pay statutory redundancy pay,” he added.

 

Next steps

 

In a letter relaying the decision to affected workers on Monday (June 26), the PDA said that its legal team will “assess the outcome and consider the next steps”. 

Should workers decide to persist with their claim, “further action would need to be via the courts, such as an employment tribunal”, it added.

Read more: Mapped: Areas hardest hit by supermarket pharmacy closures

Speaking to C+D, PDA director Paul Day said that the appeal gave Lloydspharmacy “another opportunity to do what is right”.

But Lloydspharmacy staff that were transferred from Sainsbury’s will “no doubt be hugely disappointed” that the multiple is “not taking that opportunity”, he added.

Mr Day said that the PDA and its legal team will be working with affected workers to “understand and exercise their rights at work”.

 

Lloydspharmacy “acting responsibly and equitably”

 

When approached for comment, a Lloydspharmacy spokesperson said that the multiple had nothing further to add to comments made after the initial decision in May.

A Lloydspharmacy spokesperson said that when Sainsbury’s workers were transferred to the multiple under TUPE, it was “clearly communicated” that they would only be able to claim under Sainsbury’s redundancy policy for 12 months after the transfer. 

Read more: DH discussions with Lloydspharmacy on Sainsbury's closure impact ongoing

“It was also explained that the policy was non-contractual, meaning it did not form part of their terms and conditions of employment,” they said, adding that in 2020, then-owners of the multiple Mckesson UK brought in “a new redundancy policy for all UK-based employees”, which has been used since then. 

“With this as its clear basis, Lloydspharmacy is providing all colleagues affected by the Sainsbury’s withdrawal a statutory redundancy process,” the spokesperson said.

They stressed that the multiple is “committed to a fair process” and was “acting responsibly and equitably” towards those faced with the prospect of losing their jobs.

 

Statutory v enhanced redundancy dispute

 

Last month, Lloydspharmacy turned down the PDA’s collective grievance on redundancy terms and the trade union moved to escalate the dispute to an internal appeal.

C+D revealed earlier this month that “around a hundred” ex-Sainsbury's Lloydspharmacy workers had put their names to the collective grievance, first announced by the PDA in February. 

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

The pharmacist trade union had said in January that it was “working tirelessly” to prevent job losses at Lloydspharmacy after the multiple announced that it would withdraw from Sainsbury’s in-store pharmacies over the course of 2023.

As of June 13, all Sainsbury’s Lloydspharmacy stores had closed for good, as revealed exclusively by C+D.

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

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