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Boots denies pressuring employees into accepting lower pay

Practice Boots has dismissed claims by the PDA Union that it is intimidating employees into accepting last year's premium rate cuts, which were ruled unlawful by an employment tribunal in May.

Boots has dismissed claims by the PDA Union that it is intimidating employees into accepting last year's premium rate cuts, which were ruled unlawful by an employment tribunal in May.

The health and beauty giant said the union had not been "accurate or fair" in its claims that employees had been called into meetings with senior company managers and threatened with dismissal if they did not agree to the lower rates within seven days.

The fresh dispute came after an employment tribunal ruled that Boots was obliged to pay the full premium rates agreed in some employees' contracts.

"Boots now appears to be engaging in intimidatory tactics to force through changes that have been judged to be unlawful by the court" John Murphy, PDA Union

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The PDA Union argued that Boots was engaging in "intimidatory tactics" to ensure employees accepted its lower rates, stressing that this could leave the company open to claims of victimisation and bullying.

Boots told C+D that the PDA Union had not given an "accurate or fair representation of the facts". "While dismissal with an offer of re-engagement is an appropriate and lawful option that is open to us, we really hope that this can be avoided by agreeing the changes with those individuals," a Boots spokesperson said.

The multiple stressed that it was aiming to create a "consistent offer" for its pharmacists that would enable it to "reinvest in better pay, benefits and bonus potential for all".

"The vast majority of our colleagues have accepted the revised premium rates of pay that came into effect a year ago, understanding that our success as a business depends upon us investing in the right things to be able to deliver legendary customer care", Boots added.

But PDA Union general secretary John Murphy said he was "astonished" by the way Boots had handled the situation. "The company now appears to be engaging in intimidatory tactics to force through changes that have been judged to be unlawful by the court," he argued.

"Solicitors working for the PDA Union believe this strategy is not only fundamentally unfair, but also places pharmacists under duress and has been rushed through to take advantage of the Jubilee holiday period, when independent legal advice is more difficult to obtain," the union added.

Last month, the PDA Union reported that more than 100 of its members were considering legal action over the changes to premium rates.

Do you work at Boots? Have you accepted the premium pay rate cuts?

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Mark McDaniel, Non healthcare professional

My wife has had 27 years unbroken and loyal service and is one of the 49 who resisted this and went through the tribunal process that was ruled as unlawfull by a court judge. Laura was advised last week that she has been served 4 weeks notice of termination of her existing contract and received a letter inviting her to a meeting that specifies what the outcome of the meeting will be even before the meeting has taken place. Boots are bullies and give no regard to the long serving members of staff that have helped build the company up to what it is today. They think it is OK to just slash the wages of these staff by 25% and now they have been judged as doing this unlawfully by a court judge, they are just going to terminate contracts and hers will end on July 08th. All under the mask of No 1 Customer Care. Who are they kidding. The fact is that they are singling out and discriminating against 1 section of their workforce who have contractual terms that specify they are entitled to double time pay for Sunday working.

They have announced multimillion profits and also transferred their banking to an offshore account to avoid paying business taxes costing the british taxpayer millions. This is disgraceful.

If the managers at Boots were given a letter advising them that in 4 weeks time they will have their contacts terminated and offered a new contract that would pay them 25% less pay, i am sure they would accept this. NOT !!!

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

Be proud of the fact she had the guts to do something about it despite the unethical actions and tactics.

Many would do nothing.

Once pharmacists lost ownership rights over the years, the inevitable bad treatment by PLC and other corporate entities was only a matter of time.

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

I disagree, Boots are a very professional organisation and that they do care about staff and their pharmacist employees. Boots are a decent employer and most employees consider their employee package as competitive, CPD opportunities as good and opportunity for promotion is excellent

Angela Boys, Community pharmacist

Of course Gerry when Boots reduces its holiday entitlement for its employees, offers you a new job at the same hours but half the pay, and notifies you of how little your pension is worth after they have shuffled the funds - all without consultation - you'll be a happy bunny.....

Adina Brown, Community pharmacist

i disagree with you BIG time, only if your face fits and sing from the same book. what is CPD opportunty when it comes to taking away from you what is is due you. you can do CPD by yourself.

Career Miss Take, Locum pharmacist

1.Decent ?If Cpd opportunities can be quoted as a marker for a good employer your expectations are rather lower than the rest of us.
2.Boots are a very professional organisation-- so you say. We don't even know even know where their taxes are paid. How about paying them in the UK where we encourage business and competition.
3.opportunity for promotion is excellent... only because everyone is fed up and wants to leave. Regarding "the Local Boots" , I am appalled by the way young impressionable staff are made all sorts of promises and 'Had carrots dangled ' and basically used as cheap labour.

Its usually a carrot on a rather long and extendable stick which allows them to keep moving the carrot out of the reach of most of the staff members.

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

Decent and fair is an accurate description of how the majority of Boots pharmacists are treated in terms of ongoing training, annual CPD conference and opportunity to do a Community Pharmacy/ Clinical Diploma.

Very professional in terms of clinical governance in their pharmacies in terms of how they operate dispensing business, developing and offering new services and being person centred in their pharmaceutical care.

Opportunities for those who want a mangement career from the healthcare assistant through to pharmacists. They are quite meritocratic as an employer. As before they offer competitive salaries, employee benefits and bonuses and are a success story on the UK High Street.

Adina Brown, Community pharmacist

gerry you really surprise me is, BOOTS the only multiple you've been with. what are these opportunities you describe boots have on offer, they are available with other multiples too. i eventually got my clinical diploma with my current employer and when i say eventually you should understand i was not offered it in my time with boots tho i tried.

Mark McDaniel, Non healthcare professional

All Funded by staff who are being forced to accept a 25% cut in pay Gerry. I see you have chosen not to answer my question when i asked if you were one of those who were having your contract terminated and then offered a new one , which meant you would lose 25% of your take home pay. I think that says it all....

Its fine to sit on the fence and take the moral stance if you are not the one that is affected by these changes. If you really feel that strong about this, why dont you write a letter to your boss advising that you want to take a 25% cut in pay to fund all these great things that you are talking about on here.

Mark McDaniel, Non healthcare professional

Gerry, i think you are missing the point here. The employees have contractual terms in place. Boots are just terminating these and issuing new contracts that will affect the take home pay by 25%.

I am assuming by your comments that you are not affected by this change, so ill ask you a question ...

If you went into work and your manager gave you a letter notifying you that your current contract would be terminated in 4 weeks time and you would be offered a new contract that meant you would lose 25% of your take home pay each month, would you still say that "boots are a decent employer" and would you accept this change and sign upto these new terms ????

Chad Harris, Community pharmacist

linkedin says Gerry Diamond is a PCT pharmacist. (if it's the same one??) So Mark you may see Mr Diamond having exactly the same thing happen to him when the CCGs take over. But as Clive says.... a job at BTC HO awaits?!

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist


Forgot to ask....have you got that job in the PR department of Boots yet? ;-).

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist


I would not disagree with your opinion of Boots to be a professional organisation BUT……..

I strongly suspect that this sort of intimidation is just one tactic that will be employed by some multiples in an increasingly aggressive attack on employee pharmacists pay and conditions over the coming few years.

The oversupply of pharmacy graduates will guarantee, in the near future, that there will be pharmacists desperate enough to work for pay and conditions that would not be even considered today. The multiples know this.

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

Yes I am sad to agree with you. It is not the last of this despicable kind of action. The pharmacist was at the heart of the community when I started out.

Don't kid yourself about community pharmacy being rewarding in the years ahead.

Now you are being slowly and inexorably reduced to drone status. If you don't comply they will find someone else.

Tim B, Locum pharmacist

Salaries and locum rates have a lot further to decrease yet!
When all has caught up and nobody considers pharmacy to be a good career anymore, the multiples will have reaped their due reward and should disappear into oblivion.
And the public will have the service it so richly deserves.

Its about time that pharmacists refused to work under NHS terms and dictats.

sara cundle, Superintendent

Agree entirely--locum rates will bottom out--but remember this situation has been aggrivated by the excess number of pharmacists currently being produced by too many schools of pharmacy.
Until we have an equilibrium in the workplace--a lot of multiples will continue to act in this way--their attitude is there is a plentiful supply out there for us to choose.

sara cundle, Superintendent

This reply was made by paul samuels--locum pharmacist (not by Sara Cundell)

Gordon Mackenzie, Community pharmacist

As suggested by many pharmacists on the Locum Voice website it is maybe time to allow free entry to any pharmacist wanting to start up anywhere. Perhaps the Government should actively discriminate in favour of the small independent with up to a dozen pharmacies being allowed to open up where they want. Time to get the profession back into the hands of pharmacists.

Sue Per, Locum pharmacist

I totally agree with Gordon, and would further add that,It is time to abolish the current contract, and reintoduce the old "cost plus" contract which dis-incentivised dispensing "sweat shops", and allowed pharmacists to deliver their services professionally with pride and dignity for a fair reward,. Such contract would not only protect low volume dispensing pharmacies, freeing up time for other services, but would also bring opportunities for other enterprising pharmacists who wish to work for themselves, to open new pharmacies in the many empty units on our high streets. They may perhaps venture into other non conventional innovative health related professional services.

K S, Industrial pharmacist

This doesn't surprise me one bit.

S Jones, Other healthcare professional

all i can say is that it seems that employers have no respect for the employees!
its just disgusting behaviour!!! to be frank!!
care in the community !! LOL oh yh we dont understand the meaning of that no more!!

Career Miss Take, Locum pharmacist

Why Can't we show some solidarity for once.??.
Without necessarily going on strike we can show Boots and the other bulleys that we Pharmacists and staff alike have had enough.They can't sack us all and if they decide to take action against us it will only highlight their unreasonable demands on their staff. We need to develop a system to assist any unfairly treated objectors to these bulleys.

Adina Brown, Community pharmacist

boots are big bullies and most of the time they get away with MURDER, and i wonder why

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

I considered that the recent reporting of Mr Olinari (customer survey case) to the GPhC by Boots to be a rather “nasty and vindictive” act.

I would consider this targeting of pharmacists who are simply standing up for their contractual rights also to be “nasty and vindictive”.

Is this the new face of Boots?

Adina Brown, Community pharmacist

hi this is not the new face of Boots at all. they've always been like that, vindictive and unfeeling attempting to do away with pharmacists when they feel they have no more use of you, using dirty tactics. 12 years after leaving them seems they have'nt changed, rather got worse!!!!!!!!!!!

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