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Boots pensions dispute: PDA launches ‘first stage’ of formal complaints process

The pharmacy union has sent its members employed by Boots a “template” to complain to the multiple about changes to their pensions.  

Boots parent company Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) last month announced that it had offloaded Boots employees’ pension scheme to financial service provider Legal and General (L&G) in a £4.8 billion deal.

And now, the PDA announced that its members employed by the multiple who “have concerns” about the changes should submit a complaint to Boots “as the first stage of a formal complaint”.

The union yesterday (December 19) reiterated that the “claim” of the pension scheme’s trustees is that “the option to take an unreduced pension from age 60” was a “discretionary” benefit.

But the union’s national officer Paul Moloney said that the PDA and its advisors have “considered” this and found that Boots has “insufficient evidence to fully support this claim”.

 

“Over 100 members affected”

 

After holding “an online meeting of over 100 members affected” by the change, the PDA said it “will now be sending template complaint letters setting out concerns” to its members.

Mr Moloney added that “there is sufficient doubt over the claim that the unreduced pension was discretionary”.

He said that the union believes that instead of being “ended with immediate effect”, the ability to withdraw an unreduced pension from the age of 60 should have been “secured as part of the buy-in”.

“Although we recognise the advantages a buy-in can bring to the overall security of benefits, it is important that it is done correctly”, he added.

 

Next steps

 

Mr Moloney said that members should use the complaint templates to “challenge this through the [pension] scheme’s disputes procedure initially”.

But he added that if the complaint remains “unresolved”, members should escalate the complaint to the “pension ombudsman who is there to resolve matters such as this”.

Earlier this month, the union stressed that members must “first…use the internal disputes procedure” as this is “a requirement of the ombudsman before [it] can take up cases”.

At the time, a Boots spokesperson told C+D that “members will continue to receive their full pension without any reduction from the pension scheme’s normal retirement age, which is 65 for most members”.

They said that “it is still possible for members to apply to take early retirement, just not on the legacy enhanced and strictly discretionary basis”.

C+D approached Boots for comment.

Meanwhile, rumours are circulating that WBA is planning to put Boots up for sale again, with The Times reporting that “City sources” believed it could restart the “sale process…within the next six months”.

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