Bowing to pressure?

tug of war vector

Epic only moved on a new parental leave deal because of employee pharmacist pressure, argues union

PPA has responded to the Epic pharmacy announcement of its new leave entitlement deal, saying the pharmacy group is only offering paid parental leave due to pressure from employees.

However Epic has denied this is the case.

A few weeks ago Epic Pharmacy Group and Slade Pharmacy Group, which are both part of Icon Group Pharmacy division, announced the introduction of a new paid parental leave policy which will be available to all employees from 31 March 2019.

This policy will see their employees able to access 10 weeks of paid leave as a primary carer, or one week as a non-primary carer.

On its announcement Andrew Reid, CEO of the Icon Group Pharmacy division, said it was welcome in an industry that is largely underrepresented when it comes to paid parental leave entitlements.

“This is an important investment in our people and their wellbeing. I’m delighted that the proprietors of Slade Pharmacy Group and Epic Pharmacy Group have introduced this policy to support our people, and their new and growing families,” said Mr Reid.

However in a recent statement to the AJP, PPA president Dr Geoff March said: “Icon have had years to improve their paid parental leave and have only moved on it because their employees told them to.

”It wasn’t until Epic employees joined the union and stood up in Queensland and specifically asked to improve parental leave entitlements that Epic decided to change their tune.”

PPA has been negotiating for an enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) with Epic Pharmacy since mid-last year, it said.

“The enterprise bargaining is ongoing and … maternity leave is still an issue in the bargaining too,” said PPA.

“We still want maternity leave to be enshrined in an EBA as then it isn’t liable to change by the management – which is the case with policy.”

Dr March says Epic Pharmacy staff in Queensland have “put in the hard yards to win these parental leave improvements across Icon Group”.

“Bargaining is ongoing and our members will keep all options on the table including protected industrial action to win the outcome they and patients deserve.”

However Epic Pharmacy says it did not bow to pressure in announcing the new leave entitlements.

In response to the PPA’s statement Cathie Reid, Managing Partner of Epic Pharmacy Group, told AJP: “We were delighted to announce the introduction of paid parental leave for all pharmacy team members recently, including those covered by the current enterprise agreement negotiation.

“As part of this negotiation, PPA were aware that the parental leave policy was already under development.

“Our team were working diligently to develop and introduce this policy long before any enterprise agreement negotiations commenced with PPA. As a values-driven organisation our focus is on that which benefits our employees and we know this policy delivers on that.”

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