Pharmacist salary update

Which cities saw a downward trend on pharmacist salaries in 2020, while another region has manager salaries up to $152k? And how far have penalty rates dropped? This latest salary report reveals all

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on employment trends in the pharmacy industry, according to the Raven’s Recruitment Pharmacy Salary and Market Report 2020.

“Permanent full-time recruitment in pharmacy has slowed considerably by employers, as they are wary of putting on new staff in uncertain operating conditions,” said the agency.

Compounding the situation are reduced hours and foot traffic for pharmacies in shopping centres and CBD locations, and postponement of hospital elective surgeries leading to less demand for staff.

Meanwhile increasing demand for part-time staff has continued in 2020 as candidates revealed the desire for flexibility, work-life balance and control over where and when they work.

The Pharmacy Industry Award provided a slight increase in pharmacy wages during ordinary hours of work from July.

However this has been combined with a reduction in penalties for Sundays and Public Holidays.

The reduction was effective from 1 July 2020 as part of the fourth round of penalty rate reductions, which had been phased in as part of the Modern Award review process completed in 2017 by the Fair Work Commission.

For full and part-time employees, the loading on Sundays dropped from 165% to 150% and for casual employees the loading dropped from 190% to 175%, Heidi Dariz, General Manager at Raven’s Recruitment, told AJP.

The public holiday rate loading was dropped to 225%.

For the most part wages in the sector have remained steady, said Raven’s Recruitment. However there was variation among the states, with some seeing a rise in their salary range while others saw a decrease compared to last year.

Pharmacist annual salaries in Sydney stayed steady at a range of $68,000 – $84,000 in 2020. ACT pharmacist salaries trended up slightly with a range of $75,000 – $85,000 in 2020, compared to $74,000 – $82,000 in 2019.

ACT pharmacist manager salaries also slightly rose to $100,000 – $115,000 in 2020. Pharmacist in charge and intern salaries in both ACT and NSW stayed the same.

However the Brisbane pharmacist salary range dropped at the lower end, from $75,000 – $83,000 in 2019 to $70,000 – $83,000 this year. Regional and rural Qld and NT (including Darwin) stayed steady at $89,000 – $101,000.  These areas saw low-end salaries for pharmacist manager roles rise from $106,000 in 2019 to $115,000 in 2020, with salaries at the top end reaching $152,000.

The salary range for Melbourne pharmacists dropped from $75,000 – $83,000 in 2019, to $69,000 – $82,000 in 2020. Pharmacist in charge salaries also trended downward.

“We mainly saw this drop between April and October and I believe it was due to competition,” Ms Dariz told AJP.

“Many pharmacists who had been working as casual locums found themselves with less hours offered, as pharmacist owners and managers were not taking holidays and many had opening hours reduced, so these locums decided to take up permanent roles, and more pharmacists available meant a slight downward trend on wages.

“We have seen a correction of this since November so will be interesting to see what happens early next year.”

However some roles in regional and rural Victoria and Tasmania (including Hobart) increased, with upper end salaries for pharmacist managers reaching new heights at $140,000 (up from $126,000 in 2019) and $110,000 (up from $103,000) for pharmacists in charge.

Perth and Adelaide pharmacist salaries stayed the same at $65,000 – $74,000 and $68,000 – $76,000 respectively. Regional and rural WA and SA saw salaries ranging between $87,000 – $96,000.

Meanwhile pharmacist locum rates for weekday work trended slightly upward to $44-$46 per hour in capital cities and metro areas (up from $42-$45 in 2019), staying steady at $47-$60 in regional and rural areas.

“Few employers have had the luxury of booking holidays this year, leading to a reduced availability of locum work,” said Ms Dariz.

Raven’s Recruitment predicts this to boom as restrictions ease.

“Border restrictions have meant that many of our ‘travelling locums’ who have been stuck close to home are eager to start locuming again further afield. Conversely, short-term locums have been more in demand than ever, as for the first time we have had to supply locums to the many pharmacies opting to work split teams, or having staff that are required to isolate.

“Pharmacist shortages are still critical in our rural and remote locations, although we predict in 2021 there will be an increase in the number of pharmacists who will consider moving away from the larger cities.”

Ms Dariz praised pharmacists on their response to the pandemic.

“One of the key stand outs during this period have been the way pharmacies have adapted and responded quickly, ensuring they have kept their staff and customers safe, and developing innovative approaches to the delivery of services and engaging with customers,” she said.

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