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‘Wage theft’: PDA helps locum pharmacists recover £65k in 2023

The Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA) has said that members have reported several incidents of 'wage theft' by their employers.

The union revealed last week (August 18) that it had received reports from pharmacists and trainee pharmacists detailing “wage theft” by employers, including unpaid overtime, wage deductions and withheld payment.

“Wage theft” is the “denial of wages or employee benefit” contractually owed to a worker by their employer, according to the PDA’s statement.

It can see victims not paid their full holiday entitlement, not paid for all hours worked or underpaid the contractual rate, it said.

Read more: Trainees hit out: Reports of employers backtracking on Oriel placement terms

Locum pharmacists have recovered £65,000 in outstanding wages “so far” this year with the help of the PDA, it added.

The union said that in one recent case it had assisted a locum to secure £8,000 that was owed to them by an employer, adding that it “frequently helps locums secure outstanding debt” owed for shifts worked.

 

“Unacceptable”

 

PDA general secretary Mark Pitt said that it was “unacceptable” that pharmacists had to “fight” to receive what was “legitimately” owed to them, particularly during a cost-of-living crisis.

Mr Pitt stressed that legal and contractual obligations “must be honoured” even while some pharmacies are facing “financial pressure”.

Read more: Eight northern pharmacies up for sale as owners enter administration

The PDA advised that pharmacists should keep copies of employment contracts and ensure that their contract details “rates of pay” as well as expectations of “what is required to earn that pay”.

It said that “wage theft” could affect pharmacists in “any sector”, adding that it had initiated claims for “unlawful deduction of wages” against the NHS, multiples and “some” independent contractors.

“Individuals need to be part of an organisation that can help them challenge such dishonest behaviours,” the union added.

 

Trainee exploitation

 

The PDA also said that trainee pharmacists had reported that they had been “required” to work “regular” overtime without additional pay and had faced wage deductions.

“Trainees can feel vulnerable and less confident in exercising their employment rights because it will be their designated supervisor who determines if they complete their training successfully and that same person may also be their manager or employer,” it added.

Last week, C+D revealed that several trainee pharmacists had raised concerns that some employers are not keeping to the foundation training placement terms that they advertised on Oriel.

Read more: Top tips for trainee pharmacists starting their placement year

Trainees had approached Zhyar Said, a healthcare analyst and the owner of the Instagram-based trainee pharmacist educational platform @Revise_Pharma, with complaints including extended working hours and deductions for training costs. 

Mr Said referred the trainees to the PDA, which told C+D at the time that the union has previously supported trainees facing similar issues and continues to do so.

A poll run by Mr Said revealed that dozens of trainees had faced irregularities in their work placements.

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