New pharmacy pay rates

An increase in the award minimum will kick off on 1 July, Fair Work Commission has announced

The commission has announced a 3.3% increase in award minimum rates, which will apply from 1 July this year.

“We have determined that it is appropriate to increase the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and the factors identified in our decision have led us to award an increase of 3.3%,” says the commission in its Annual Wage Review 2016-17 Statement.

“The level of increase we have decided upon will not lead to inflationary pressure and is highly unlikely to have any measurable negative impact on employment,” the commission states.

“It will, however, mean an improvement in the real wages for those employees who are reliant on the NMW and modern award minimum wages and an improvement in their relative living standards.”

The new rates of pay are as follows:

Award ClassificationWeekly RateHourly Rate
Pharmacy assistant – Level 1763.2020.08
Pharmacy assistant – Level 2781.4020.56
Pharmacy assistant – Level 3809.1021.29
Pharmacy assistant – Level 4842.3022.17
Pharmacy student – 1st year763.2020.08
Pharmacy student – 2nd year781.4020.56
Pharmacy student – 3rd year 809.10 21.29
Pharmacy student – 4th year 842.30 22.17
Intern 1st half of training853.5022.46
Intern 2nd half of training882.6023.23
Experienced Pharmacist1,093.5028.78
Pharmacist In Charge1,119.2029.45
Pharmacist Manager1,247.2032.82


Pharmacists must be paid these rates as a minimum, plus all allowances and penalties they are entitled to receive as detailed in the Pharmacy Industry Award.

“Still too low,” commented one pharmacist on social media.

“Where’s the incentive here? Pay peanuts and get monkeys! Why would you consider going through uni for 4 yrs and then pre-reg for another year, for crap money like this? It’s a bloody joke!” said another.

The pharmacists’ union, which says the award increase “isn’t enough”, is currently campaigning for a 30% pay increase for pharmacist employees.

“Our work value increase case is progressing – but will probably not be concluded until late this year or early next year,” says a spokesperson for the union.

Earlier this month the commission also announced it had decided to phase in cuts to Sunday penalty rates this year.

From 1 July penalty rates will go down from 200% to 195%.

These will then decrease from 195% to 180% on 1 July 2018; from 180% to 165% on 1 July 2019; and from 165% to 150% on 1 July 2020.

Some pharmacy groups have announced they will not cut penalty rates and continue to pay the current loadings.

Meanwhile, the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association and United Voice groups have stated they are making a formal appeal against the Fair Work Commission’s decision on penalty rates.

See the Pharmacy Industry Award 2010 (published 28 June 2017) for full details pay rates.

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  1. pagophilus

    It’s a joke! When we get pharmacy students come on a placement I ask them “why did you study pharmacy?”

    • Jarrod McMaugh

      Is that Bairnsdale hospital Leo?

      If so I hope future student placement coordinators take note.

      • pagophilus

        Would you rather they get the rose-coloured glasses experience?

      • Red Pill

        Jarrod surely you’ve been a pharmacist more than 10 years. Be honest, looking back to early 2000s, has the Pharmacist wages gone backwards or not? And if so, has the amount of workload and expectations doubled or not? Tell me. Did most of these exist back then when u were on $40-$50/hr wages??
        Compulsory CPD, immunisation, Meds checks, CIs, Managing patient histories for them to receive reminder text msgs, Blood test monitoring services, INR, Weight loss clinics, ever so expanding number of compounders wanting u to compound as well as dispense.
        All for a small wage and a mountain of responsibility. Surely you’re honest when a student comes to your pharmacy on placement. Right??

        • Jarrod McMaugh

          I honestly tell them they should not work for the award

          And I honestly tell them that their career is theirs to make.

          • Red Pill

            So you omit facts to paint them a rosy picture. Nice to know.

          • Xpharmacist

            Jarrod, your 1st comment reminds me of an anecdote on whirlpool. An experienced community pharmacist applied for a new job offering “ABOVE AWARD WAGES”.
            After being told at interview he could expect to dispense an average of 500 scripts a day with 1 other pharmacist, and all the other usual duties eg companion selling KPI, Webster checking, methadone, medscheck, stock ordering etc. He finally asked what the salary on offer was. $30 an hour the pharmacy owner replied enthusiastically. Yep, make sure you get some of these generous above award wages out there.

        • Xpharmacist

          Spot on Red Pill, modern day community pharmacy is a true nightmare for employee pharmacists who are exploited at every turn. And then paid a pittance. We can help by advising them on their exit strategies.

      • Bryan Soh

        After working in pharmacy for 3 years, I really wished someone told me the cold,hard truth when I was at uni, placements or at work. The rosy coloured picture the lecturers and tutors painted were blatant lies. I was constantly on whirlpool throughout my undergrad, and was alarmed at what I was reading. These were dismissed as hyperbole by the people around me. Only upon finishing my internship did I realise the hyperbole was justified, 5 years after my entry into the course.

        • Hutch

          Get a job in the pharmaceutical industry. Try regulatory affairs if you don’t want a sales position. Salaries and job satisfaction much higher. Also I was lucky to see the world with many overseas trips to Europe, Asia, US etc.

    • Xpharmacist

      While I agree with your sentiment, that is a bit harsh Pagophilus, remembering you are dealing with young adults who have committed years of study & tens of thousands of dollars to pharmacy. They may not be totally aware of the terrible state of pharmacy & I wouldn’t want to be the one who brings their world crashing down. Rates of anxiety & depression are high in this group so I suggest be gentle & supportive. Certainly ask them if have they got a “plan B” if pharmacy doesn’t work out & offer some exit strategies eg studying medicine or any other profession, government career options, industry etc.

      • pagophilus

        You’re making big assumptions as to what I actually say to them. Of course it has to be done appropriately however conversations need to be had, and if nobody else is prepared to talk about it I am. The same can be said of other issues. Are oncologists and oncology nurses prepared to discuss the real life effectiveness of chemo treatment, and the chance of a cure? I’d say not, judging by the number of patients willing to pay for expensive experimental therapy in very late stage cancer. If they aren’t, I am.

  2. Jarrod McMaugh

    In my opinion, the PIC rate (currently 29.45) should be $40, making the PPA figure of 30% about right, give or take.

    This is the detail I included in my submission to the current work value review.

    • Xpharmacist

      Agree Jarrod, $40 to $45 for PIC and $50-$65 for a pharmacy manager. This would keep pharmacists in community pharmacy & inspire top students to study pharmacy, something the miserable award above will not do, obviously.

  3. Simon wei

    32.8 for a pharmacist manager? welcome to this decision as guild is pushing pharmacists to leave this profession, hahaha!

    • Xpharmacist

      The guild doesn’t care if a EMPLOYEE pharmacist walks away from their miserable award… because with thousands of new grads every year from the 18 pharmacy schools with already chronic oversupply, there will be a monkey who will gladly work for it.

  4. Isharni Jainasun

    I’m currently a Yr12 student about to study Pharmacy at UQ. I’ve read this post thoroughly, and would like some wise knowledge. I love pharmacy, I mean the career itself is everything I inspire to be. Communication, Health Care profession, Independence.

    However, after reading this post, along side the many attached threads alerting all undergraduates that pharmacy “is a dying profession”, I was concerned.

    Is there any hope for Pharmacy in the future, I mean. Can thing’s change by 2022 (my first internship)?
    I’ve heard success stories of independent pharmacies in (rural areas) Australia pulling in an overturn of $200k. (not the big chains- independent owners)

    4 years is a long time, 5 if you include the tedious internship. I’ve heard rumors of a 30% increase in the minimum annual salary. Is this ‘idea’ worth taking the gamble for?

    I have a PlanB if pharmacist in the future die out of businesses. Medicine, Teaching. However, It’s pretty underwhelming to expect a $30/hr pay for a highly praised health care profession. Pharmacists are the experts in pharmaceuticals and trump knowledge over any GP. Yet they get treated like some rip off retailer that sells drugs.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong: I’ve heard that in the near future there will be a leading pharmacists in every local Woolworth. Will this positively or negatively affect the salary of a pharmacist. What hourly pay could one expect?

    I attended a recent ‘pharmacy experience day’ at the University of Queensland and had a blast of a time. The head of pharmacy adviser was prompting the future of pharmacy within the next 10 years to be very bright. Remember folks, it wasn’t too long ago when Pharmacy was an OP3 at most leading Universities. Therefore the demand was more concentrated and refined.

    Can independent pharmacies be successful? Can you make the 100k+?
    Please leave feedback

    Kind Regards,

    • PharmOwner

      Hi Isharni,

      When you refer to independent pharmacies doing “overturn” (I assume you mean turnover) of $200,00, you need to remember turnover = sales. Out of that sales figure you must subtract the cost of goods. What you’re left with is the gross profit. Out of the gross profit, you must subtract all your other expenses: rent, wages, superannuation, insurance, marketing/advertising fees, bank fees, bank interest, electricity, phone bill, dispensing labels etc. I would say that if a pharmacy was only turning over $200,000 that by the time you took out all the overheads and operating costs, you’d be left with almost nothing. Not enough to live on, that’s for sure.
      Pharmacist wages circa 1999 used to be reasonable because most pharmacists were paid above award wages. Then two things happened. 1/ The number of pharmacy courses in Australia exploded, so there were many more graduates being produced each year. 2/ Chemist Warehouse introduced the discount model and implored Australians to “Stop paying too much”. They cut prices, which meant they also needed to cut costs wherever they could. This included staffing costs. Independent pharmacies, in order to compete with discounters, had little choice but to also cut their costs. Combine the rise of discount chemists and a large supply of graduating pharmacists each year and you have a formula for disaster as far as pharmacy wages goes.
      Can independent pharmacies be successful? Yes, if there’s not much competition from discounters and supermarkets ie in small, rural areas. Can you make $100K per year? Not in community pharmacy, unless you go rural. Perhaps in hospital or maybe as a drug rep. Will something change? Change is constant, for the better or worse. Can we expect the pay we deserve? No. Not with the current number of pharmacists in the workforce and a lousy Pharmacy Award.
      My recommendation: Do not do pharmacy if you want to be well remunerated. If you enjoy the work, and helping people then fine. Just don’t expect to be well paid.

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