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Lloyds addresses Sainsbury's pay cut concerns

Lloydspharmacy says it will consult with Sainsbury's “on all areas that are important to colleagues, including their benefits”

Lloydspharmacy says existing Sainsbury's contracts will be legally protected when it takes over the pharmacy business in March


Lloydspharmacy has reassured Sainsbury's staff their existing contractual terms will be protected when it takes over the pharmacy business in March, in the wake of fears over pay cuts.

C+D readers voiced concerns over the multiple's buyout of the supermarket’s 281 pharmacies last week for £125 million. Current and former Sainsbury’s employees posting on the C+D website expressed worries that the deal would see pharmacists’ pay fall and signal an end to benefits, such as in-store discounts and long-term employment bonuses.

But Lloydspharmacy and Sainsbury’s stressed that the approximately 2,500 supermarket employees affected would have their contractual obligations protected under employment law (see below). Lloydspharmacy also said it would work “closely” with the supermarket chain on a consultation “on all areas that are important to colleagues, including their benefits”.

It was “very early days” in the deal, and there would be “many details” to work through before it took control of the branches next March, Lloydspharmacy said. The multiple was "committed to taking the time to consider how we welcome colleagues to our business", it said, and creating the "best transition possible".

But superintendent pharmacist Max Falconer, a former manager of a Sainsbury's pharmacy, branded the deal a “disaster” for staff, who could look forward to pay rates of “£15 per hour and going down”. Sainsbury’s dispenser Louise Smith said she was “waiting for the shock to wear off” after learning she would lose her “discount [and] bonus" after "20 years [of] service”.

Locum rates and communication

Kent-based locum Alisdair Jones also told C+D he was worried that pay rates would drop, while pharmacy student Zohib Sheikh predicted Lloydspharmacy would “undoubtedly run down” locum pay.

In response, Lloydspharmacy told C+D that its locum rates vary “by location and nature of the requirement”. “We always aim to provide patients with continuity of service and we will take that approach when we operate the pharmacies within Sainsbury’s,” it said.

C+D readers also lamented that Sainsbury’s staff only heard about the deal on the day it was announced. Sainsbury’s technician Zoe Spivey said she felt “totally cheated”, and pharmacist Raluca Chisu said the lack of notice was “unfair”.

Sainsbury’s told C+D that the deal was “market sensitive”, but it had wanted staff “to hear about it from us first”. “We began briefings with our pharmacy colleagues ahead of any announcements,” it said.

Neither Sainsbury’s nor Lloydspharmacy would say whether other companies had bid for the pharmacies, consisting of 277 located in Sainsbury’s stores and four in hospitals. Sainsbury’s said the sale had been subject to a “fair tender process”, while Lloydspharmacy told C+D it had been “looking for opportunities” to expand.


How will employee benefits be protected?

Andrew Davidson
Partner, Hempsons law firm


Sainsbury’s employees’ salaries will initially be protected under transfer of undertakings (TUPE) regulations, Mr Davidson told C+D. This makes it “very tricky” for Lloydspharmacy to change the terms of employment that staff received while at Sainsbury's. However, if any Sainsbury's staff receive a higher salary than their Lloydspharmacy equivalents, they were unlikely to get any pay increases until the salaries matched, he said.

Mr Davidson reassured readers that Sainsbury’s staff will retain any pay benefits they received for long-term employment because they will continue to deliver the same service. But they may lose their Sainsbury’s staff discount, as the terms of this scheme probably means it only applies to staff directly employed by the supermarket, he added.


How will the sale of Sainsbury's pharmacies to Lloydspharmacy affect the sector?

We want to hear your views, but please express them in the spirit of a constructive, professional debate. For more information about what this means, please click here to see our community principles and information


Bernard Doro, Community pharmacist

If pharmacists are worth £15/hr or less then perhaps it's time the Prescription Pricing Division consider a reduction in payments to these big companies. Have we made ourselves cheap? Just a thought.

PoPeYe- Popeys Car Wash, Community pharmacist

£15/hr or less and I would simply toss my degree in the bin, I've had more than 20 years use out of it anyway. How many current pharmacists anymore are "desperate" to remain as such and are in love with the profession. I'm sure £15/hr would get you a job with much less responsibility, potential for personal trauma due to mistakes in bearing this responsibility, and overall stress. Have we made ourselves too cheap? Absolutely and a long time ago. Too many of us, no solidarity within the profession, no spines. And also in a career generating less and less money for whoever. Money in= money out hence riches in banking and private practice medical careers. I didn't go into this for the financial rewards, but if cleaning windows paid me 80% of what I'm getting now, I'd be off, and have a damned more healthy physical and mental life!

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Bus driving is £25-27 an hour in my city and stacking shelves during the evening in local supermarket is about £11-12 per hour. Some preliminary suggestions!

Leon The Apothecary, Student

During this wave of new pharmacists I have met some who are on lower wages then myself as a locum dispenser. Speaking to them about it, they believe "they had no other choice."

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

So, you as the dispenser get MORE than the pharmacist?? Is this in the chains or independents? Is this common?

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Typically chains, pharmacists tend to be typically more proactive when it comes to fighting unfair wages against independents and do so successfully. However, I have started to witness some independents venture into that territory. It's quite common amongst the newer pharmacists to be shafted compared to the more experienced ones for a phantasmagoria of different reasons.

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Unfortunate. They need to heed the words 'due diligence' when picking their degree and handing over thousands of pounds. They're like lambs to the slaughter. Universities laughing all the way to the bank. These kids would genuinely be better off working their way up at costa coffee, Mcdonalds, Lidl etc....

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

Agreed. I wonder what will be happening with Clearing 2015 on Thursday when A level results come out? I hope some poor naive young things who couldn't do Medicine don't just fall into pharmacy. Interesting reading on TheStudentRoom website. Maybe we should post there and tell them what it is really like? !

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Medicine to pharmacy would be an absolute tragedy. 5 years of your life straight down the toilet with a five figure debt to boot

C A, Community pharmacist

They could always be a locum dispenser...

Edna Martins, Medicine counter assistant

We where briefed about the merger 15 minutes before it was that the fair warning?

Chris ., Community pharmacist

Co-op staff were briefed three hours after it was announced on Radio 2......

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

These big guys like Boots, Lloyds care even less about staff than than they do patients. Money is their God and best of luck if you get in their way.

Brian Austen, Senior Management

Last in with under 2 years service will be first to go. The rest will be safe in the short-term. Redundancy terms are terrible! Support staff to pharmacists are most vulnerable to redundancy.

michael mustoe, Community pharmacist

My experience of Lloyds Pharmacies suggests that the company couldn't care less about patient continuity or staff workload. The deal is all downside for both, I think

John Randell, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager


London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Join a union without the delay. When big companies tell you not to worry you should WORRY.

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

All I'll say is good luck once the honeymoon period is over its a kick in the mahunkas!

Super Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

My sympathies to our colleagues @ Sainsburys. I wonder if this will be a trend in supermarket pharmacies? They tend to follow each others' lead in most things. Money is always the most important to these companies. As it is for Lloyds come to think of it

PoPeYe- Popeys Car Wash, Community pharmacist

Exactly. I wonder if Lloyds would consider hoovering up the other Supermarket chains pharmacies and create a "supermarket pharmacy" sub-division. I have this inkling that supermarkets feel they need to have a pharmacy in store for trading reasons but are finding that running this part of their store does not fit in with their core business philosophy of how to make money. They do not understand at store level the concept of the overall control of the responsible pharmacist and cannot understand the high salaries paid to people that I'm not sure they regard as high level scientific professionals.

BL E, Primary care pharmacist

My partner is an HR manager for a supermarket and believes pharmacists are overpaid for what they do - leads to some heated debates between us.

John Randell, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager


Samuel Horti, Other healthcare professional

Thanks for your comment Mr Randell, do you have any more details on this? If so, would love to hear about it, I'm on [email protected] or 0207 921 8194

Old Timer, Manager

Look on the bright side at least no one can ask you to help out on the Fish Counter anymore .

Brian Austen, Senior Management

I looked at NHSBA figures for 30 of the pharmacies and they averaged 4424. Remember these are 100 hour pharmacies = Loss making. Sainsbury had a good idea, sell them to Celesio (Lloyds). I bet Sainsbury had a great party celebrating the deal! 3 of the 30 were dispensing 1459, 1728 and 1756. From the figures I would assume only 3 of the 30 were breaking even or making a small profit.

C A, Community pharmacist

Under new ownership will they still need to maintain their 100 hours?

THB _B, Community pharmacist

Wonder how many items on average these pharmacies actually dispense?

Danny TheRed, Community pharmacist

No pay rises if you're earning more than an equivalent Lloyds employee, is that not infact a pay cut each year?

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

Danny, you have clearly never been subject to a take-over and also have the misconception that staff get a pay rise every year. Staff pay has to be reflective of the money paid to the business. With less money coming in due to reduced margins, not many companies can afford to increase their outgoings, especially in terms of pay. And let's not forget we had a period when inflation was 0%

Danny TheRed, Community pharmacist

Clearly as I'm already working flat out I won't be able to increase the number of items we dispense next year. 0% was RPI not cost of living.


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