WeLocum was prompted to implement a minimum rate for any locum job advertised on its website, after users complained that one rate “exploited” pharmacists, the agency told C+D last Thursday (March 16).
A job posted by Islington Pharmacy on March 10 – and seen by C+D – advertised for a locum pharmacist at the rate of £15 per hour.
A spokesperson for the independent pharmacy in London said the hourly rate was "all that [they] could afford" and the pharmacy has had locums work for £15 per hour previously.
"At that rate I don't expect locums to do any extra services," the spokesperson added. "I am there most of the time, so locums are just expected to cover regular dispensing, and check off a few [dosette boxes], in a shop that isn't that busy.
"I don't think I am exploiting locums."
WeLocum director Dipesh Patel told C+D that the agency “took immediate action” after locums flagged the “below-average rate” being advertised on the website. The business implemented a website change that prohibits the posting of any jobs offering less than £18 per hour.
“Previously the platform allowed pharmacies to post locum jobs at the rate they saw fit,” Mr Patel said. “As WeLocum is not an agency but a free platform to facilitate the booking of locums, we do not have employed staff who are aware or negotiate the rate for any job advertised.
“We respect and understand that individual pharmacy businesses vary across the UK. After reviewing the 2016 C+D Salary Survey – where the average locum rate was mentioned to be £20.50 per hour – a decision was made to implement a minimum rate of £18 per hour for a locum job to reflect this,” he added.
The new policy “should not stop pharmacies from offering their normal rates if they are higher”, Mr Patel stressed.
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"This isn't the job for you if your prime concern is rates," they added.