Nearly a quarter won’t cut penalty rates

pharmacist holding piggy bank

The pharmacists’ union says 23% of the industry has committed to protecting penalty rates

This comprises Chemist Warehouse/My Chemist (for current staff) and Epic Pharmacy.

Andrew Reid, CEO of Epic Pharmacy, recently sent an email to employees outlining the company’s decision to retain current loadings.

“With clear visibility regarding the Award changes and how they will be introduced, I’m pleased to be able to confirm that we’ll be continuing to pay the current loadings for ordinary hours worked on these days,” Mr Reid wrote.

“We’ll be continuing to maintain a double time and a half rate for public holidays, and double time for Sundays.

“There are no changes occurring to the Health Professionals and Support Services Award, and by maintaining the existing Pharmacy Industry Award loadings we also retain consistency with this Award.”

While PPA does not plan to join other unions—such as the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association, and United Voice—in making a formal appeal against the Fair Work Commission’s decision on penalty rates, it plans to provide them with assistance “as required,” says PPA spokesperson Georgia Kavanagh-Dando.

It is in the process of writing to CEOs urging them to retain penalty rates, as well as “as many independent owners as we can,” she says.

As yet most groups have not yet responded, though the My Chemist/Chemist Warehouse group announced recently that it would retain current penalty rates—but only for current employees and those who start work before 1 July 2017.

“Future employees are still in jeopardy, so we will continue to campaign CWH,” says Ms Kavanagh-Dando. “We would prefer that no pharmacy owner passed on the penalty rates cuts—for current or future employees.

“Pharmacists are not paid very much for their qualification (four years at university plus an additional year’s training and study to become a registered pharmacist), experience and particularly the critical work they do. They’re individually liable for any mistakes they may make. 

“The award minimum rate for a pharmacist who does not have any managerial responsibilities is $28 an hour (it will go up to $28.78 from 1 July). The market rate is around $35 an hour. 

“This is much less than many other professionals get. Many health care professionals with lower skill requirements less responsibility earn significantly more. 

“Our members tell us that they rely on penalties to earn a reasonable income—particularly the large number of pharmacists in part-time employment who can’t get full-time employment.”

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