Tesco will cut its locum rates by 50p an hour from next month, C+D has learned.
In a letter sent to a Tesco locum last month and seen by C+D, the supermarket said it would reduce its hourly pay by approximately 50p for all shifts after July 20 following a “recent review of market rates”.
Tesco confirmed to C+D yesterday (June 9) that it had made a “small reduction” to its locum rates. The supermarket would not reveal its current locum rate but claimed it was “among the highest in the industry”.
In its letter, Tesco encouraged locums to discuss the new rate with their manager. But a Tesco locum, who wished to remain anonymous, told C+D that his manager had been “not been informed” about the change when he had raised the subject.
The pharmacist said he felt “particularly aggrieved” that shifts booked before the pay drop was announced would not be honoured at the previous rate. The reduction also left him feeling “devalued”, he added.
Shaun Hockey, managing director of locum agency PL-UK, said the reduction was "very short-sighted". "Although there is perceived oversupply of pharmacists, they will get mopped up by GP practices,” he told C+D.
Locums had “long memories” and the “opportunistic” rate change would mean some would decline to work for the supermarket in future, he added.
Locum pharmacist John Munday agreed that some locums could “vote with their feet” after hearing the news. He branded the rate change as “another big locum employer yet again downgrading [our] worth”.
In its letter, Tesco added that its travel expenses - 25p per mile for round trips of longer than 40 miles - and accommodation rate of £20 per night would not be affected.
The average hourly locum rate last year was £21, a £3 drop since 2008, according to figures from C+D’s most recent salary survey. In 2012, C+D learned that Tesco was cutting rates for locums who did not perform an MUR during their shift.