How can pharmacy raise pay rates?

hand out for money - coins in palm

There’s no doubt wages for pharmacists have become dismal – to the point where many are considering leaving the profession

But what can be done about it? AJP ran a poll recently to determine what you think the profession could do to help remunerate pharmacists more highly, and there were several key suggestions which stood out.

Readers were invited to tick any responses they deemed relevant out of the 10 suggestions we gave. And there was a clear winner: Fair Work Australia needs to increase the award rate. This option netted 294 votes.

Matt Harris from the employee pharmacist’s union told the AJP that he’s glad that this was the top response, as PPA currently has a case before the Fair Work Commission to lift award rates.

“Employee pharmacist rates were last assessed in the mid-90s by the Fair Work Commission, and there’s been no consideration of the value of the work of these pharmacists since then,” Harris says.

“We believe that there’s been significant change in the profession since that time, and now the Fair Work Commission should reconsider the work value of those pharmacists.”

The union is seeking an increase of up to 30% in award wages, he says.

Part of the change in pharmacists’ duties since the last assessment includes the increased counselling role played by pharmacists.

Indeed, remuneration for additional services was another top response, receiving 249 votes.

“We’ve asked the Commission in our claim for allowances around professional services – we believe that the employee pharmacists who actually provide the services should receive a percentage of the payment a pharmacy owner receives for these services,” Harris says.

The top responses were as follows, at the time of writing:

  1. Fair Work Australia needs to increase the award rate (294 votes)
  2. Pharmacy schools need to reduce student places (255 votes)
  3. Pharmacists need to be paid for additional services (249 votes)
  4. The Government needs to increase PBS remuneration (242 votes)
  5. The Guild needs to negotiate better terms in the 7CPA (205 votes)

The least popular options were better training for pharmacy graduates, with 29 votes, and going rural, with 37 votes.

Reduction of competition was a strong theme in comments on the poll.

“Reduce the number of pharmacy graduates,” suggested Slim Jim.

“17 (or is it now 18?) pharmacy schools churning out thousands of low-quality graduates every year is not helping an argument for better wages.

“Remove pharmacy from the approved list for migrants (has this has already been done?). This only contributes to workforce over-supply and thus low wages.”

Worried said that the Government needs to reduce the number of pharmacies from 5000 to 3000 – and The Cynic responded that this was an existing “unwritten agenda” which was already underway.

Kevin Hayward commented that if employee pharmacists want to receive more, they must give more.

“If a Govt or commercial enterprise is to be persuaded to make financial provision for a wage increase, the first question they will ask is ‘what’s the payback?’

“Only proposals which offer increased productivity, quality, or reduced costs are likely to be considered.”

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