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Boots employees face ‘some risk’ in refusing premium pay cuts

People The PDA Union has warned that Boots employees could see their employment terminated if they refuse to agree to premium rate cuts and would have only a 50:50 chance of succeeding in a claim for unfair dismissal

Boots employees could see their employment terminated if they refuse to agree to premium rate cuts and would have only a 50:50 chance of succeeding in a claim for unfair dismissal, the PDA Union has warned.

The union said there was "some risk" in employees rejecting the lower premium rates introduced at the health and beauty giant, despite an employment tribunal ruling them unlawful last month. The changes will mean employees receive time and a half on Sundays and single time on bank holidays.

Last week, the PDA Union claimed that senior Boots managers were arranging meetings with employees who had contested the rates, at which they told them they could face dismissal if they did not agree to the new terms within seven days. The news came as a poll of more than 300 C+D readers revealed that 89 per cent thought pharmacists should receive premium pay for Sundays and bank holidays.

The PDA Union has warned Boots pharmacists to be mindful that they could be formally dismissed from their jobs for refusing the revised contract

More news on the Boots premium pay dispute

Boots denies pressuring employees into accepting       lower pay

100-plus pharmacists plan action over Boots' Sunday        pay cuts

Boots employees win battle over Sunday rate cuts

But, while Boots argued that the PDA Union's claims were not accurate or fair, it said dismissal with an offer of re-engagement was "an appropriate and lawful option" open to the company where employees did not agree to the revised rates.

The PDA Union is in contact with approximately 150 Boots pharmacists looking to challenge the rate cuts and, in guidance to members, urged them to pursue claims for discrimination.

The union said employees could accept the cuts and make a statement to Boots that they felt under discrimination, which would still enable them to pursue their claims in tribunal proceedings. Alternatively, employees could reject the revised terms and conditions, but the union urged these members to give "careful consideration" to their decision.

"This strategy is not without some risk and the outcome cannot be accurately predicted at this stage," it said. "Pharmacists should be mindful that they would need to refuse to sign or agree to the new contracts and risk being formally dismissed and their employment with Boots ceasing."

The PDA Union went on to say that it could not guarantee a successful claim for unfair dismissal, but assured members it would invest "significant resources" in helping them to pursue their claims.

And law firm Charles Russell said it could not predict the amount of compensation that would be awarded in those unfair dismissal claims. "If an employee declines an offer of re-engagement [with the revised rates forming part of their contract] and successfully claims unfair dismissal, there is an argument that the employee has failed to mitigate their losses by refusing a position on substantially the same terms and conditions as their previous role," said Charles Russell associate Ben Smith. "This could impact on the amount of compensation awarded."

But Mr Smith stressed that Boots would also have to fulfil its legal obligations. While he said the company was within its rights to dismiss and re-engage employees on another contract, he said it would have to give adequate notice of the changes.

"Employers cannot unilaterally vary employees' terms and conditions of employment," Mr Smith told C+D. "If changes are required, employers should undertake a reasonable period of consultation with employees to seek their consent to the contractual variation."

One Boots employee told C+D they had found the dispute over pay "distressing". "A manager called me into a meeting on the Friday before the Jubilee bank holiday and asked me to agree to the changes there and then and sign a statement of particulars," they said. "I didn't sign so they said they wanted an answer by June 8."

"It was a shock and that weekend I didn't sleep – I was awake at two or three in the morning," they added. "I've got to pay for my kids going to university and it's an awful lot of money to lose."


Do you agree with the stand the PDA Union against Boots' premium pay cuts?

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15 Comments

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

Hi C&D,

This story seems to have very suddenly disappeared from the Home/Latest Headlines page of the website instead of slowly working its way down the listings.

Is there a reason?

Clive

Danny TheRed, Community pharmacist

"Who cares? Boots cares", surely that's true, please don't tell me that Father Christmas is fictional as well!

At least there's one person who still thinks it's a great idea working for Boots. I left after i couldn't stand the bullying and pressure anymore. The working environment was a health hazard that was swept under the carpet. The workload was tremendously high and at least one member of staff went sick from the stress every month. The bullying and harassment from mangers/area managers/head office staff became ridiculous. And because unrealistic targets couldn't possibly be met, no bonuses were given. You can quote the company line as much as you want but the reality is Boots only have one priority and that's money. Nothing else matters anymore.

Adina Brown, Community pharmacist

couldn't agree with you more Brian. boots don't care about their staff. Money comes first before the people who help to generate that money for them. in actual fact they come between the money and the people who make it for them, in my opinion

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

I think that the PDA are being alarmist and catastrophying the Boots' Sunday double pay dispute issues. Clearly, the time and a half on a Sunday is very reasonable in today's climate while pharmacist colleagues in the NHS have had two year ongoing pay freezes while Boots has given a 3% pay rise similar to last year and bonuses up to 4% are being paid out in June.

If the pharmacists package is seen in the round it ain't too bad at all.

Adina Brown, Community pharmacist

i think Gerry isn't quite with it, maybe a bully himself, not realising what is being done to the Boots pharmacists. talk about a pay rise and a bonus, are these not cancelled by the pay-cuts? so there may be the possibility that these pharmacist are left out of pocket. a case of giving with the right hand and taking it back with the left hand. and i have a sneaky feeling all this is a dirty strategy by the giant (with a small'g') to get rid of long serving/higher paid pharmacists and take advantage of the over production of pharmacists, bring them in and pay them peanuts. Gerry wake UP. Listen to the disturbed collegue, he cannot sleep, and am sure he's not alone, there may be many like him out there. working for boots, i came to realise is like signing your death warrant, when i started losing my hair and had to see a trichologist i knew it was time to walk out. you Gerry must be spokeman for boots ihave no doubt or is there more to your support for these BULLIES that you haven't told us about.

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

No Adiina, as an NHS pharmacist having had a 2 year pay freeze. Boots pay seems much higher and having worked for an independent multiple they never paid double time or time and a half for Sundays.

I think that you and others may have lost sight of how your colleagues are remunerated in other comapnies and other sectors. I just think that we need to work with Boots and it does not all have to be confrontation or personal anecdotal baggage.

Best wishes

Gerry

Danny TheRed, Community pharmacist

A tear came to my eye when you mentioned your 2 year pay freeze...... then I remembered your very generous final salary pension scheme.
This behaviour by Boots is poor, infact unethical as far as I'm concerned, they should honour the contracts. I have worked for both the NHS and retail side of pharmacy and I know who has it easier, like to take a guess..........................................?

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

You must be mistaken my dear chap that is no longer a given particularly for those of us that have only come back into the NHS in the past four years. Please get your facts right....thanks!

Mark McDaniel, Non healthcare professional

Welcome Back Gerry. I have missed your comments. Just wondered if you have wrote that letter to your manager yet , confirming your commitment to Boots vision and are willing to put your money where yur mouth is and take a 25% cut in your pay to support this.

Fingers Crossed that you are not just hot air.......

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

Mark...you are terribly naive/ I personally think that many Boots pharmacists have been poorly advised by the PDA in my view. Remember, PDA members may well be used like pawns by the union in order to get the publicity they need to create the qdos and ramp up their membership too.

So all parties have something to gain. My strategy would have been....'jaw jaw' and not 'war war'. So, the PDA may get good publicity by creating a grat deal of uncertainty among its members and exacerbating it by alleging that jobs are on the line and further stresses of dismissal.

I believe that the PDA may be irsponsible as once the situation dies down, which it will, PDA will move on and end of story...lawyers will have collected their fees. Thank you very much.

The real winners the PDA lawyers!

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

Hi Mark

Nice to hear from you and I am very sorry that you are having problems. I hope you find away through it.

Gerry

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

Gerry,

The crux of this is that employees who have legitimate contracts with Boots (and in this case are usually long service, loyal employees) are being intimidated into accepting a new contract which basically amounts to a large pay cut.

As has been mentioned before, with the oncoming oversupply of pharmacy graduates, this is most probably just an opening shot of a concerted attack on employees pay and conditions that will take place over the next few years by the multiples.

By the way…….have you still not got the job as director of the Public Relations department of Boots yet? ;-)

Middle Way, Community pharmacist

Time and a half is very reasonable?

Well Gerry, 89% of the voters would disagree.

Career Miss Take, Locum pharmacist

' it ain't too bad at all.' Gerry. You are amazing. I picture you as living in a tent on a daily diet of baked beans.
How much more can pharmacists and assistants take from these bullies who can only achieve success by exploitation and bullying.

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