Employers make retaliatory threats to report employees to Board

pills make a sad face

Some employers are threatening to report their employees to the Pharmacy Board after facing unfair dismissal or underpayment claims, according to the pharmacists’ union

PPA says that it has been pursuing an “ever-increasing” number of such claims.

It also says it has recently noticed that “some employers, when they receive such a claim, are all of a sudden raising suggestions that they will lodge a notification to the Pharmacy Board concerning aspects of the performance of the pharmacist who has lodged the unfair dismissal or underpayment claim, even though they have not previously raised any concerns with the pharmacist prior to them lodging their claim”.

PPA cites one case where it lodged an unfair dismissal claim for a member it believes was unfairly terminated from “very long term” employment with a pharmacy.

The claim was settled at a preliminary conciliation proceeding undertaken by the Fair Work Commission, which meant there was no need for formal hearings.

Part of this settlement was a standard agreement that the employee would take no further action against the employer and that the employer would take no further action against the employee.

“Unfortunately, the employer chose to notify the Pharmacy Board of a suspected breach of the pharmacist’s professional practice obligations either just before the matter was settled or just after,” says PPA.

“We are not sure why they did this when they had reached agreement with us to take no further action against the employee and at no stage did they advise that they had or intended to notify the Pharmacy Board about this pharmacist’s professional practice. 

“We suspect that they lodged this notification in order to give themselves a lever to apply pressure to our member to withdraw his claim if it became necessary.”

In this case the Board has advised they will not take action against the pharmacist.

“In another recent unfair dismissal conciliation proceeding for a pharmacist member the pharmacy owner threatened to lodge a notification to the Pharmacy Board for an incident that occurred 18 months ago,” says PPA.

“This was clearly a blatant attempt to apply pressure to our member to withdraw their claim against their previous employer.”

The union says the Fair Work Commission Conciliator conducting the conciliation proceeding was “very unhappy” with the employer for making such threats and ensured that the settlement which was eventually achieved included a guarantee by the employer that they would not report the incident to the Pharmacy Board. 

“We suspect that if the employer had gone through with their threat to notify an incident that occurred 18 months ago the Pharmacy Board would have had serious concerns with the professionalism and honesty of the pharmacy owner,” the union says.

“We have also had employers threaten or lodge notifications to the Board on a number of other occasions when an employee has sought to enforce their rights and entitlements. 

“Unfortunately this highly unprofessional and downright nasty practice by employers seems to be increasing.”

A spokesperson for the Guild said: “The Guild urges all pharmacy owners to comply with their legal requirements in relation to workplace laws, and also to act in good faith towards employees as a matter of standard ethical business practice.

“Having said that, there are usually two sides to every story PPA tells.”

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  1. Andrew

    Name and shame these employers.

    • dirk

      There are usually two sides to every story.

    • William

      Name and shame the alleged unprofessional employees as well.
      As Dirk has stated, there are usually two sides to such arguments.

  2. Jarrod McMaugh

    Board notification should neither be used as a threat against an employee, nor as a negotiating tool that can be traded to prevent other complaints.

    If a pharmacist has behaved in a manner that requires notification to the board, PPA (or any employee) should not be able to negotiate this away in an agreement, any more than any person should be able to use it as a threat.

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