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PDA attacks Boots for locum contract changes

Business The Pharmacists' Defence Association has hit out at Boots' changes to its locum contract, which it says includes unacceptable cancellation terms

Boots is taking advantage of its market power with changes to its locum contract, the Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA) has claimed.

The PDA voiced concerns over the multiple's latest changes to its 2009 contract, which will see locums only entitled to two hours' pay if a booking is cancelled with less than one week's notice, and allow Boots to send locums to a pharmacy up to 50 miles away from the original booking.

Boots said it had introduced the new locum agreement to ensure it provided "the right framework to support both patient need and our pharmacy colleagues", and had also launched a new website for locums.

"Large employers are taking advantage of their strength in the labour market" John Murphy, PDA

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But the PDA advised locums to be wary of agreeing to all the terms and conditions, and said it would be raising its concerns with the multiple.

"They are taking advantage of their market power and the changes to supply and demand in the locum market to impose terms more favourable to the company," the union said.

It said it was unacceptable for a locum to be paid just two hours of cancellation fees when their loss could be a full day, and told C+D it marked the end of the multiple's previous "fair and reasonable" cancellation policy.

The PDA raised further concerns over a clause that would entitle the multiple to immediately terminate an agreement based on incompetence, as "Boots alone will be able to determine what constitutes incompetence", and bookings could be cancelled on the basis of unproved allegations.

PDA director John Murphy said the new contract was a sign of large employers "taking advantage of their strength in the labour market", as they knew other locums would take up the position even if some disagreed.

"Locums have to make a decision that they will not sign the new agreement and, in some cases, therefore will not be able to work," Mr Murphy said.

Boots said its new website would give locums access to all the information they needed when working in the multiple's branches. "By ensuring our locum pharmacists have every detail they need on our processes and procedures, guidance on our ways of working and are fully informed and updatef on the current services we offer together we can focus on putting patient care at the heart of our business," a spokesperson said.

What do you think about Boots' changes to its locum contract?

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Stephen Riley, Community pharmacist

I share similar concerns about the new Locum Contract. However, also find it very disingenuous that you cannot register on the website without agreeing to the new terms and that there is nobody you can contact to discuss any concerns about the contract. I fully appreciate Boots have no obligation to and it would be impractical to consult every locum before setting the new contract. However, I am aware of no consultation whatsoever. After all we as locums are all individual contractors be it as sole traders or via a Ltd company.

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

I suppose that is the nature of how things are these days, but given that then the only way forward is to be flexible in todays competitive market for locum work. case of like it or lump it. But i am sure Boots conducts itself fairly with locums on the whole.

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

Flexibility can be a two edged sword. I am sure those who have turned up to a booking have - and its been a double booking eventually realise it is not always a mistake.Deliberate mistake.

Time to decide if your future lies elsewhere !

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