Penalty rates cut: what you said

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Our readers are up in arms about the decision to slash penalty rates, with many saying it will drive pharmacists out 

Readers of AJP have responded angrily to today’s decision by the Fair Work Commission to cut penalty rates.

Sunday rates for full-time workers have been reduced from double time to time-and-a-half, while for casual workers rates have been cut from double-time to time-and-three-quarters.

Matt Harris, national campaign manager for Professional Pharmacists Australia, slammed the Pharmacy Guild following the decision, saying “the Guild had a choice. They didn’t have to join this case to slash penalty rates. They made an active decision to disrespect the work of thousands of hard-working pharmacists, and today’s the result of their work”.

There will be significant flow-on effects for the sector and for patient outcomes, PPA believes, and many of our readers agree.

Here are a selection of reader comments: 

Pharmacists already work long hours and are totally underpaid, paying us less will just cause more resentment towards the owners and the guild and result in more pharmacists walking away

Diana Meyer

So community pharmacy as a career is going to be able to attract top talent how?

Without intelligent people working in pharmacy we will become irrelevant very quickly.

Just part of the death spiral we are in I guess.

Philip Smith

We work long hrs, no break often not even to go to the bathroom. Pays stagnant for a decade and government cuts that effect the generosity of owners.

A higher base rate in keeping with other health professionals is needed would make the penalty cut fair

Amanda Rose

I am a pharmacy owner and I am surprised by this. I would hope fair work is looking to increase the base rate for a pharmacist at some point soon. The award wage does not reflect the responsibilities of a pharmacist. I believe it needs to increase by about $10/hour.

Charlotte Hutchesson

As a pharmacy owner myself I have to agree with you 100%. Not only is it a kick in the teeth to our employed coleagues but it also gives corporate pharmacies another competitive advantage over independent pharmacy. Hopefully get a better decision when the work case value comes through

Paul Sapardanis

What is the point of even having a Fair Work Commission when it can make decisions as manifestly unjust as this, which I’m amazed that even the Guild had the gall to ask for?


That sounds fair. However, so does paid work-through-lunch, or actually getting a lunch break plus overtime that’s actually accounted for. Also, being able to decline to work sundays is fair too. It’s a market economy, if you want someone to work, you calculate your opportunity cost, the pharmacist calculates their’s then if there’s no agreement the owner can work instead. Simple. Also, don’t re-sign those dodgy single enterprise agreements!


It’s merely one more nail in the coffin of the ‘profession’ that once was pharmacy.

As an owner (well, at least until the bank foreclose on me) I can say that unreasonably high pharmacist wages is not one of the problems facing the small independent pharmacy.

It’s like driving past a car wreck, I have a morbid curiosity to see just how much lower the profession can sink?

Defeatist? Pessimistic? Damn right I am.

Brett the reluctant pharmacist


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