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Lloydspharmacy denies 'targeting' part-time pharmacists for redundancy

The PDA and Lloydspharmacy met last month to discuss "topics of mutual interest"
The PDA and Lloydspharmacy met last month to discuss "topics of mutual interest"

Lloydspharmacy has denied claims by the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) that it is “targeting” certain employees for redundancy to reduce the costs of “double cover”.

The PDA said it has received “a number” of reports from members working part-time at the multiple who have been approached to “terminate their employment”.

In a message to Lloydspharmacy members sent last Friday (April 6), the PDA Union alleged some part-time pharmacists have been “pressurised” by “company managers” into “making rapid decisions about whether they wish to accept a confidential financial offer to terminate their employment with the company immediately, or be put through a redundancy exercise”.

“Our understanding is that double cover” – the notion of having two pharmacists operating in one pharmacy at a time to cover services and responsible pharmacist activities, for example – “is being removed, which will impact predominately on those pharmacists with term-time, job-share and part-time working arrangements”, the union added in the letter.

“Removing double cover from a number of branches” would mostly affect females at Lloydspharmacy, who are most likely to hold these roles, PDA director of defence services Mark Pitt told C+D.

Lloydspharmacy: There is no “national redundancy programme”

Lloydspharmacy told C+D this afternoon (April 9) that while it “continuously reviews [its] skill mix and colleague staffing levels in all stores...there is no national redundancy programme, removal of 'double cover'...or targeting of part-time workers”. 

“Many factors impact on customer and patient demand at store level, including competitor activity, market changes and consumer behaviour,” Lloydspharmacy said. “We see many fluctuations across our store network, which may result in increased demand in some stores and a reduction in demand for others.”

“Where customer needs require changes in our stores, we will always have a conversation with impacted colleagues to discuss changes to hours or location,” Lloydspharmacy added.

The multiple did not specifically respond to C+D's question on whether individuals have been offered financial incentives to terminate their employment.

It confirmed Steve Howard and Andrew Gibb, superintendent pharmacist and retail operations director at Lloydspharmacy's parent company Celesio UK, had met with the PDA “a couple of weeks ago” to discuss “several topics of mutual interest”.

The PDA's Mr Pitt told C+D that although the PDA Union's email was prompted by “three or four” complaints from Lloydspharmacy members, the organisation has now received up to “a dozen” in total.

The PDA Union said Lloydspharmacy employees should contact the organisation for advice if concerned.

Do you work part-time at Lloydspharmacy?

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I wonder what effect that 30% reduction in profits last year is having on Lloyds?

There’s a whole generation of young graduates chomping at the bit to gobble up all of these hours as Locum work

Female Tech, Pharmacy technician

I wish women would stop crying sexism as the minute something happens, without any evidence to back it up. It makes it so hard for the rest of us to be taken seriously. Having children and working part time is a lifestyle choice, employers should not have to kow tow to females because they want their cake and eat it.

Locum Pharmacist, Locum pharmacist

Having children and working part-time may well be a lifestyle choice but are poor reasons to terminate someone's contract. It is difficult for primary caregivers, male or female, lacking an adequate support network to continue working unless they are able to work flexible hours. Unfortunately, they are facing a lose-lose situation. If they do not work they are considered a burden but if they request flexible hours or other necessary adjustments they are unreasonable or demanding. 

Brian Austen, Senior Management

If a woman works for employer on a contract that allows them to work term-time, job-share or have part-time working arrangements, that contract should be honoured the same as it would for any other employee. To suddenly use it as a criteria that disadvantages them in the redundancy selection process is sexual discrimination. This sort of behaviour should have stopped a long time ago.

Disillusioned Sussex chic, Dispenser Manager/ Dispensing Assistant

I fear that within the next few years we will not be seeing 'community pharmaies', all the major companies are going 'on line for most things. I feel sorry for those who are elderly living at home or indeed residential/nursing homes, they LIKE the personal touch of a local pharmacist but, that won't happen if a) Hubs are used and b) double cover is stopped due to funding. Pharmacy is not about the patient anymore, it's about how much money the big boys can make. I say 'boy's' as the 'girls' are still lagging behind in the wage bracket!.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Pharmacies in its current iteration are going to be different. I agree that they are going to go the way of the single doctor practices that are becoming less and less common.

Caroline Jones, Community pharmacist

It's not a surprise.....the large multiples are always cost cutting! I suppose the issue is, if it is part-time female staff providing this double cover...the chances are that this is because Lloyds have increased the working day significantly, meaning most child care facilities are not open long enough to allow these female pharmacists to work in a branch for the full 'opening hours'......if this is the case, it's very close to sexual discrimination...........this will be especially the case of workers were previously able to fulfill the opening hours then requested flexible working to aid childcare; and the request was approved. Watch this space....



Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

You raise an interesting point - I am not clear on the law surrounding flexible working - I know it should be allowed but can be refused if it proves too difficult/costly to back-fill. I don't know if there is any protection for those employees who are granted flexible working but, fundamentally, if the correct process is followed, then it is, by definition, not discriminatory. To play Devils Advocate for  moment - if an employee cannot find child-care to enable them to fulfill their contract, is that the responsibility of the employer?

Caroline Jones, Community pharmacist

No it's not....however, where possible employers should offer flexible working to any worker that requests it (not just those with children). Unfortunately, as the burden of childcare falls predominantly on women they are the most affected. The law states that all requests should be considered and can only be refused for specific reasons - this has to be provided in writing. In general the problem has arose due to the excessively long hours most multiples now operate.....often up to 12 hours a day with no breaks

Leon The Apothecary, Student

The employee has a right to have a flexible working request once every twelve months considered formally by their company. Flexible Working does not have to be accepted by the employer as long as there is a reasonable reason to reject the request. Assuming it has been accepted, the employer has the full protection of their contract and law.

Meera Sharma, Community pharmacist

This has happened at all multiples over the last 5-7 years. THink this is just more cuts based on reduced contarct funding. Won't be long before other multiples carry out the same review - beginning of the financial year and books need balancing me thinks!

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

This feels like making "news" out of a simpe re-evaluation of skill-mix. If there is a decision to reduce or remove double cover, the company has three options - natural wastage, redundancy or compromise agreements - You can wait for natural wastage but that tends to take too long, so many companies may decide to offer employees and enhanced compensation package to terminate their employment. This is common practice (just look at the merry-go-round of managers in football) so I am unsure why anyone is surprised. As for "targetting part-time workers" - if it is part-time workers who provide the double cover, then they are the ones likely to be the focus of this re-alignment. I cannot imagine, given the funding cuts, this is any surprise to anyone

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