In a letter to Rowlands staff sent last week (March 25) and seen by C+D, the multiple said: “Pharmacists will receive a pay increase of up to 1%, dependent on the branch band, which is based on turnover.”
As part of Rowlands’ “aspiration to have an accuracy checking pharmacy technician (ACPT) in every branch”, the hourly rate will increase fto £12.41, the multiple added. C+D is clarifying with Rowlands how much ACPTs are currently paid per hour.
Meanwhile, the hourly rates of trainee healthcare partners and healthcare partners will rise to £9 and £9.27 respectively, according to the letter.
Rowlands managing director Mark Bather wrote that the new pay scheme “continues to address feedback from our colleague engagement groups and reflects our move towards a more highly skilled workforce”.
“We believe this [rate] is fair and competitive given current market conditions and government funding constraints,” Mr Bather added.
Other changes announced under the new pay scheme includes the removal of age-based pay rates and the increase of holiday entitlement by one day to 22 days per year, “while maintaining the accrual of service-related holidays”, Rowlands announced.
New pharmacy manager role
Mr Bather also used the letter to announce the creation of a new “pharmacy manager” job title, for “colleagues who aspire to lead our branches”.
Both pharmacists and branch colleagues can apply for the new management role, and those accepted into the role will receive a “leadership payment” of £1.44 per hour on top of their salary.
When asked for more details about the new pharmacy manager title, a Rowlands spokesperson told C+D that the role is “simply a consolidation” of the non-pharmacist and pharmacist manager positions, which have been “historically two distinct roles”.
The new role “reflects the responsibilities of branch management” irrespective of the manager's profession, the spokesperson said.
“No colleagues are at risk of redundancy,” they stressed.
Rowlands regional leaders will discuss these changes with colleagues in these managerial roles, according to the letter.
As the details of the new pay structure circulated with the multiple’s staff, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) claimed some Rowlands pharmacists had been told there would be no pay increase in 2021/22.
The new pay arrangements – which were communicated just a week before they come into effect on April 1 – mean “that different salary maximums now apply in each class of branch”, according to the PDA.
Asked if the PDA’s claim that the new scheme would mean some staff would not receive a pay rise, a Rowlands spokesperson told C+D that “banding arrangements are a matter for discussion with individual colleagues, dependant on their circumstances”.
Rowlands “delighted” with new pay plan
Mr Bather said he was “delighted” to announce the new pay arrangements.
He thanked staff for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic and for “dealing with the challenges that government-imposed funding cuts have meant for our business and the sector as a whole”.
In 2017, C+D revealed that Rowlands was “re-looking” at staffing levels as a result of the funding cuts in England, with some employees claiming that ACPTs were “no longer needed” at some Rowlands branches.