Uptick in employee pharmacist wages

A new report has seen an increase in community pharmacists’ wages alongside growth in professional services

More pharmacists are now earning between $40 and $50 per hour, and fewer pharmacists are earning less than $30 per hour, according to the 2018 UTS Pharmacy Barometer released on Tuesday.

The report surveyed 361 pharmacists with the sample being representative of the Australian community pharmacy sector (±5% marginal error, 95% confidence interval).

Of these, 301 (83%) were owners, owner-managers, pharmacists-in-charge or pharmacy managers.

Owners and owner managers were asked to specify the average hourly rate for employee pharmacists.

Results revealed wage increases, with the proportion of pharmacists earning below $30 per hour decreasing from 6% in the previous survey to 2% in 2018.

Meanwhile the proportion of pharmacists earning between $30 and $40 per hour rose from 63% in the previous survey to 68%.

Nearly one third of pharmacists are earning between $40 and $50 per hour – an increase of 3% (from 27% in the previous survey to 30% in 2018).

Source: UTS Pharmacy Barometer November 2018

The results show owners are responding to the current push within the pharmacy industry to better support pharmacists through increased remuneration, according to the UTS Pharmacy team.

Professor Kylie Williams, Head of Pharmacy at UTS, said the rise in remuneration demonstrates signs of improvement and wage recovery.

“We found that the hourly rate for pharmacists appears to be slowly rising,” said Professor Williams.

“This is a good start to recognising pharmacists’ valuable contribution to healthcare provision, however there is room for further wage growth.”

Dr Victoria Garcia Cardenas, senior lecturer in pharmacy practice within the UTS Graduate School of Health, said the results show a positive trend.

“After a few years of instability, the increase in remuneration is both positive and exciting amongst community pharmacists.”

“The push towards remunerating pharmacists fairly for the work they provide appears to be working,” said PSA director and past president Warwick Plunkett.

Professional services carried out in community pharmacy are becoming more widely accepted with a one in five pharmacies now employing a dedicated pharmacist to provide services such as blood pressure checks and diabetes services.

“Over time we can expect to see this number to grow as the positions become more viable,” said Mr Plunkett.

Typically these pharmacists receive higher remuneration – 52% receive between $40 and $50 an hour, and 42% receive between $30 and $40 per hour.

“Remuneration appears to be moving in the right direction, it is evidence pharmacists are making an investment for the future of the profession,” said Professor Williams.

However it is concerning that 6% of dedicated professional services pharmacists were earning less than $30 per hour, she pointed out.

Source: UTS Pharmacy Barometer November 2018

UTS Adjunct Professor John Montgomery said pharmacists need to capitalise on the professional services trend.

“There seems to be a growing recognition that in order to take advantage of the opportunities in services, that there needs to be dedicated resources with a higher remuneration,” he said.

“This needs to accelerate to fully leverage this opportunity.”

Increased remuneration seems to be having a positive impact on attitudes, with employee pharmacists showing increased optimism in the viability of community based pharmacy, according to the Barometer report.

Over the previous two surveys, employed pharmacists’ confidence continued to decrease – however in the latest survey their confidence is at a high of 5.8/10.

This was the biggest jump among all groups, said Professor Williams.

Increased optimism was a result of pharmacists “becoming increasingly confident in the evolving role of the pharmacist and the accompanied remuneration rewards” within a more services-oriented landscape, the report said.

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  1. Still a Pharmacist

    I work as a locum in pharmacy where the regular (casual) pharmacist-in-charge’s wage is $35.00 plus super. The owner describes it as over $40.00/hour including all the cost components. Possibly most of the owners/managers surveyed calculate it that way.

    For owners themselves, the rate is over $50.00 per hour plus other entitlements. I have a feeling that because most of the good employee pharmacists are leaving the profession, the rate has gone slightly up to get few good ones. If compared against year on year, possibly the wages is still below CPI. UTS needs to do a survey only on employee pharmacists.

    • JimT

      I believe from the article above that employers/managers etc were asked to give info on regular employee pharmacists pay rates. It was not and should not be the rates that owner pharmacists pay themselves as this is usually inflated for many reasons not to mention tax minimisation ploys.Just to give the heads up to owners it is a good move to have some super happening especially as you get closer to retirement as there are many ways to set up some big $’s within the super structure to be tax effective. Always get advice from your own financial advisor/accountant/legal people……

  2. Ex-Pharmacist

    Ridiculous study. Fancy asking owners & only owners what they pay their staff. If you want to know what employee pharmacists get paid, ask employee pharmacists. Like all pharmacy schools, UTS is feeling the pinch with falling interest in their pharmacy programs, threatening the viability of the course. Hence the reason behind press releases like this.

    • Paul Sapardanis

      Correct. The over subscription of pharmacy students got us in this mess in the first place.

  3. Pam Nairn

    I agree with these comments. The questions in the survey (the UTS report can be found online) did not specify if the pay rate was salaried or casual. So many pharmacists will tell you they earn $40 per hr. But unless you get paid annual leave, public holidays, sick leave and a provision for long service leave then you are casual, and that $40 equates to about $33 per hour. And if that $40 rate includes your 9.5% super, which is a common way for employers to advertise pay rates, then the rate is even left. Perhaps the AJP should have analysed this report a little. Wages in community pharmacy are abyssmal, and the whole profession should be addressing this.

    • Jarrod McMaugh

      A person can’t just be employed in full time or part time hours and paid as if they are casual and not receive other full-time or part-time benefits…..

      • Red Pill

        Jarrod my friend although you are theoretically correct, that is not what happens in majority of independent pharmacies.
        Sick leave, annual leave, long service and lunch break loading etc are usually offered to only one of the pharmacists working full time. The ones that work 1-2 shifts a week either get paid cash or are bullied out of asking for these benefits

  4. Pam Nairn

    Yes, it is very surprising that the questions in the survey (the UTS report can be found online) did not specify if the pay rate was salaried or casual. So many pharmacists will tell you they earn, say $40 per hr. But unless you get paid annual leave, public holidays, sickleave and a provision for long service leave then you are casual, and that $40 equates to about $33 per hour. Perhaps the AJP should have looked into this report in some detail.

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