No ‘significant net addition’ to workload


The Guild has lodged a submission to Fair Work rejecting union claims in the work value case

The Pharmacy Guild has lodged a submission to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) in response to a work value claim made by APESMA (Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers Australia – now PPA) as part of the Four Yearly Review of Modern Awards, says Guild National President George Tambassis in a message to members.

“In its submission to the FWC, the Guild concludes that it does not consider that the evidence presented by APESMA demonstrates the ‘significant net addition’ to the work of pharmacists required in a work value case,” Mr Tambassis writes.

“The Guild strongly supports the vital role of community pharmacists and acknowledges in its submission to the FWC that there have been evolutionary changes to their work over the relevant period (since 1998).

“However, in the Guild’s view, the evidence presented by APESMA does not demonstrate the ‘significant net addition’ required in a work value proceedings nor has APESMA made the case for the inclusion of a new Accredited Pharmacist award classification.”

APESMA had proposed increases to minimum pay rates for all employees covered by the Pharmacy Award, as well as the creation of a new classification, “Accredited Pharmacist”, which would be remunerated at the equivalent level as Pharmacist Manager.

The Guild’s submission states that the new classification of Accredited Pharmacist proposed by the union is not properly explained, nor were the qualities which would qualify a pharmacist to be given this classification, and “in any event is a contrived classification and not justified on work value reasons”.

It says that this proposal would need to be fully quantified with “specific and probative evidence” to support claimed increases in award minimum wages.

APESMA also said the work done by pharmacists had changed so significantly that an award minimum increase was warranted.

The Guild’s submission states that, “Registration requirements have not increased or varied since the datum point in a way that supports the APESMA claim. The key elements of such registration continue to be a Bachelor of Pharmacy and satisfactory completion of an intern year.”

Better regulation of training standards does not mean additional training is required, it says, and CPD “has always been a feature of pharmacy practice”.

“The Guild acknowledges that there have been changes in the health care services provided by pharmacists but affirms its position that these changes are evolutionary in nature and do not represent a ‘significant net addition’ for work value purposes,” the submission says.

“However, APESMA’s claim that various items constitutes new work should not be accepted, other than perhaps the inoculations, clozapine clinics and provision of absence from work certificates. Most of the claimed new tasks are well within, and always have been, the skill set of pharmacists achieved in their bachelor degree.”

Patient interactions and clinical intervention has always been part of the role of a pharmacist, the Guild submission says.

“Irrespective of down-scheduling or up-scheduling of medicines, the pharmacist has always needed to understand the nature, purpose and effect of those medicines, and advise on managing conditions.

“Working to quality standards is simply good practice (such as should ideally have always been in place).

“Where training has been required (e.g. inoculations) it is not extensive and relies on the core clinical skills sets already held by a pharmacist.”

Where accreditation may be required (Home Medicine Reviews (HMRs) and Residential Medication Management Review (RMMRs)) the actual function is (and always has been) within the core clinical skill set of a pharmacist, including the need to adhere to standard documentation. What is required is the pharmacist to be certified to that effect. This represents credentialing as opposed to further qualification.

“Further, not all the claimed new tasks are applicable at all pharmacies and/or to all pharmacists, and nor are they undertaken at all times. Indeed, a number of the claimed new tasks will arise at only a limited number of pharmacies (e.g. sleep apnoea services and clozapine clinics), or at irregular intervals (e.g. emergency contraception).

“In the case of HMRs and RMMRs only accreditation has been available since 1997, yet only approximately 10% of pharmacists are accredited.”

The work which could be categorised as “new”, such as absence certificates and inoculations, are not enough to justify APESMA’s claims of “significant net addition”, the Guild says.

It also points out the some tasks, like compounding, are no longer such a big part of the workload, while technology has streamlined some tasks, such as PBS claiming processes and scanning of scripts.

Mr Tambassis says that the Guild will accept the FWC’s findings on the merit of APESMA’s work value application.

“The Guild’s position on these matters reflects an objective and evidence-based assessment of the APESMA claim against the technical requirements of the Fair Work Act,” he writes.

“The Guild recognises and respects the vital work of community pharmacists and their commitment to the pharmacist profession.

“We are committed to ensuring that the work of community pharmacists, as highly trained health professionals, is duly recognised and properly remunerated, and we will continue to pursue opportunities to enable community pharmacists to practise at their full professional scope.”

The FWC will hold hearings from May 7-11 in Sydney.

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