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Cuts to sick pay prompt surge in interest in income protection

Business An "oversupply of pharmacists" has allowed employers to cut back on benefits, insurance firm PG Mutual has claimed. PDA director John Murphy (pictured) said the trend was a "concern" and urged those at risk to get income protection.

Fears over cuts to sick pay benefits have caused a surge in interest in income protection among pharmacists, insurance company PG Mutual has claimed, after it received almost double the number of enquiries this year compared with 2011.

More than 200 pharmacists signed up to PG Mutual's scheme between January and September this year, a rise of more than 50 per cent on the same period in 2011.

PG Mutual marketing manager David Zerny said the company had seen increased interest among pharmacists, with 1,000 enquiries in nine months. He said this was the result of an awareness that some employers were reducing benefits such as sick pay.

"We've been trying to get employees and locums to ensure that they've got their own provision for some sort of income protection" John Murphy, PDA

More on pharmacy pay

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Multiples reject claims of employee benefits cuts

Pharmacy employers cut back on benefits

"Traditionally they were quite generous because they didn't have enough pharmacists, so they had to use the benefits package to recruit people," he told C+D. "I think now you've got an oversupply of pharmacists, so the benefits are starting to be stripped out."

In March, Lloydspharmacy revealed that it would be changing its employment policy to withhold company pay for the first three days of sickness absence. The multiple stressed that the policy was "in line with other retailers".

The C+D Salary Survey 2012 has also revealed that cuts to benefits were a concern for some pharmacists. One respondent described how reduced sick pay meant "pharmacists are being forced to work while sick or lose pay", while another complained that having no sick pay meant they were "reluctant to take any time off even if I need it".

Charity Pharmacist Support said it had received a range of enquiries from pharmacists concerned about taking time off sick. "People approach us because... they are unable to work because of illness, either their own or someone they care for, and either they are self-employed and therefore have no income or are on a reduced income," said the charity's information officer Paulette Storey.

And the Pharmacists' Defence Association told C+D it was concerned by the trend "where people's sick pay benefits are being diminished".

"That's one of the reasons we've been trying to get employees and locums to ensure that they've got their own provision for some sort of income protection," PDA director John Murphy said.

"Our advice to pharmacists is: check what your sick pay benefits actually are, what implications they would have for you financially if you were to go off ill for any length of time, and see whether you need to bridge that gap with some form of income protection insurance," Mr Murphy added.

A C+D poll in July suggested that 70 per cent of pharmacists had seen benefits such as sick pay and pensions cut back in the past year.

More results of C+D's Salary survey 2012 will be revealed online and in the October 27 and November 3 editions of C+D.

For more results, comment and news from the Salary Survey 2012 as well as tools including a salary calculator, wheel of blame, interactive map and employed/locum comparison calculator and much more click here

Has your sick pay been cut in the past year?

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Disillusioned Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

I get no sick pay and no one will give me income protection because of chronic illness from childhood that hadn't reared its ugly head much until about 3yrs ago (nearly lost the house, returned to work far to soon in order to try and keep roof over our heads), I have 2 dependents and alot of bills to pay if same happens again, which it could at any time (failed to mention this to me when younger as would not have chosen this path) we are effectively done for. This current financial situation is an echo of how my own life is going, no light at the end of the tunnel.
Incidently the company for whom I work pay their clerical staff (in other areas of the business) full sick pay for first 6months and then half pay and that is from day one of joining the company! Being a 'Professional' counts for nothing anymore well not in pharmacy at least!

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

Sorry to hear that as I'm knocking on myself and it can happen to anyone...good luck mate!

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

It has been common to withhold first 3 days pay to discourage sick note issues and the best advice is to get some sickness protection cover for your mortgage at least as well as some income. I am not being an apologist for company;s policies just the reality of the current situation.

However, with income protection policies you probably need to get good advice on its suitability, e.g will sick pay kick in immediately, after one week, two weeks or a month, check the exemptions, conditions as the devil is in the detail. Remember policies may only cover you for 12 months so consider the longevity of the cover too if you have a protracted illness.

Remember to keep your premiums up and you may be expected to still pay your premiums while off work as well.

The devil is in the detail.

Good luck all! and Good health!

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