Pharmacist penalty rates cut by Fair Work Commission

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Employees’ rates have been cut by half for Sunday and public holiday work

It’s a decision Professional Pharmacists Australia has called “disgraceful”.

“So this is the pay cut that the Guild has asked for,” says National Campaign Manager Matt Harris. “It’s a pay cut that no pharmacist can afford. You’ll be hearing a lot more from Professional Pharmacists Australia about this issue.”

Michael Butler, the National Director for Industrial Relations at Professionals Australia has called it a “disappointing decision”.

He explains that penalty rates for working on Sunday for full-time workers have been reduced from double time to time-and-a-half, and for casual workers from double-time to time-and-three-quarters.

“There’s similar cuts for public holidays,” he says. “If you’re working on a public holiday, for full-time employees there’s a reduction from double-time-and-a-half to double-time-and-a-quarter.

“And for casuals, from two-and-three-quarters to double-time-and-a-half,” says Mr Butler.

“So as you can see, this decision means that you will be required to work longer hours to receive the same amount of pay that you are currently are receiving. That’s it in a nutshell. The operative date will be in effect from the 1 July 2017. It will be phased in from between two and five instalments but that’s to be determined. The Fair Work Commission will be inviting the parties to make submissions on that.”

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia had put in a submission to the review to have the Pharmacy Industry Award amended to reflect the following in relation to Sunday work.

“The Guild’s position is that penalty rates for Sunday are too high,” a spokesperson told the AJP when the submission was made.

“Communities expect their pharmacies to be open at weekends, and preferably open seven days a week. To achieve this, the industry needs realistic penalty rates so that pharmacies can afford to open at these times,” they said.

While the spokesperson said the Guild recognises the “traditional family value of Sundays” – which is why the day should still attract a higher rate than Saturday – it did not deserve the current rate.

“The important factor never to lose sight of is that when assessing the appropriate remuneration that the pharmacy professional remains viable and sustainable moving forward,” they said.

But the pharmacists’ union says the pay cuts do not accurately reflect the services that pharmacists provide.

“It’s a very disappointing decision,” says Mr Butler.

“I think any future government needs to take action to protect our pay of employees and particularly pharmacists, because a lot of you are forced to work on a Sunday to provide a very valuable service to the community, just like a nurse, just like a doctor and other health professionals.”

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