Pay up 21%

PPA has urged the Pharmacy Guild to pass newly-decided pay rises of up to 15% on to their employees in full

Professional Pharmacists Australia says that the decision by the Fair Work Commission to provide a 5% increase in pharmacists’ pay – and another 10% for those undertaking HMRs and RMMRs – in the Work Value case should give pharmacists encouragement to keep pushing for higher pay.

On Thursday, the FWC handed down its decision regarding its Four-Yearly Review of Modern Awards – Pharmacy Industry Award.

In December 2018, it had issued a decision finding that PPA (then APESMA) had demonstrated that there was an increase in work value associated with the introduction of HMRs and RMMRs that “justified a discrete adjustment to award remuneration by means of the introduction of a new allowance”.

It decided at the time that there had been “an increase in the work value of pharmacists since 1998 in respect of the introduction of inoculations, the provisions of emergency contraception, the downscaling of medicines to pharmacy-only status, and a general increase in the level of responsibility and accountability”.

It also found a “lack of alignment in pay rates and relativities” between pharmacists and those for classifications requiring equivalent qualifications.

Submissions were invited and were filed by APESMA, the PSA, the Pharmacy Guild, and Australian Business Industrial and the NSW Business Chamber.

The Guild submitted that an allowance for work associated with HMRs and RMMRs should be payable on each occasion they are performed, quantified on the basis of an approximate equation with one hour of the minimum rate for an Experienced Pharmacist (currently $29.79) and capped at approximately five hours a week.

This would take it to an additional 3.55% of the standard rate on each occasion one of these reviews was performed. It also proposed adding the new allowance in the list of matters which might be satisfied by the payment of an annualised salary.

The Guild also suggested a general increase for all pharmacist classifications except for interns of 5%, to be implemented in two equal instalments on 1 July 2019 and 1 July 2020.

It also submitted that in light of these suggestions, comparing pharmacist pay to relevant others was not necessary.

But the Commission said it was “not persuaded” by the Guild’s submissions regarding a “per occasion” allowance was an appropriate method of remuneration.

From 1 October 2019, an employee classified as a Pharmacist, Experienced Pharmacist, Pharmacist in Charge or Pharmacist Manager who is required by the employer to perform HMRs or RMMRs will be paid an allowance of $106.40 per week.

A 5% increase will be introduced in two equal instalments of 2.5% from 1 July 2019 – in addition to the 3% increase arising from the Annual Wage Review 2018-9 – and 2.5% from 1 October 2019.

PPA CEO Chris Walton said pharmacists should be proud of this achievement.

“Pharmacists banded together to deliver up to 15% pay increases in this Work Value case, which is one of the first of its kind,” said Mr Walton.

“When you add that to more than 6% across the past two consecutive National Wage increases, pharmacists have seen an unprecedented 21% bump in pay.

“Up to 21% increases in the past three years have now been achieved but pharmacists deserve more.”

He said the case was not over, with the issue of pay relativity still to be resolved by the President of the Commission, which he said could result in another boost to pay.

“In addition to the increases today, we achieved recognition wages were out of whack with other industries and will now push for a further increase,” he said.

Mr Walton called on employers to pass on the wage increases in full, and not absorb the increases.

“Today, I’m calling on the Pharmacy Guild to advise members to pass on the pay rises in full. I’m also calling on all employers to confirm they will do so.

“The fact is that pharmacists who undertake a 4-year degree plus 1-year internship and have greater responsibilities deserve to be paid more than award rate of $27 per hour.

“It seems incomprehensible that such well trained and critical health professionals can be paid less than $50,000 per annum.”

The Pharmacy Guild has sent a message to its members saying that it is analysing the impact of these decisions. More details will be sent to members next week.  

“The Guild is also updating wage sheets and members will be advised when these are available.”

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