Boots’s market-based pay award sees pharmacists’ salaries rise by maximum 1.5%

Pharmacists who work for Boots will have a small pay rise or will have their pay frozen under a new system that measures salaries against UK competitors. Boots pharmacists’ pay has either been frozen or has risen by a maximum 1.5% under the company’s new pay review system.

Pay rises for Boots pharmacists are determined by comparing their current salary with the median of salaries paid by the company’s UK competitors. Pharmacists who work at Boots will have a maximum salary increase of 1.5% under the company’s new pay review system.

The pay award — which is non-negotiable and applies from 1 November 2015 — has for the first time been based on an external market median of the salaries paid by the company’s UK competitors.

The pay awards of between 0% and 1.5% apply to newly qualified pharmacists, level 1 pharmacists and advanced practitioners. Under the new system, each pharmacist’s pay rise is calculated by comparing their current salary with the median. Pharmacists who are in the 80–100% range of their salary median could expect to see a higher increase in their salaries of around 2–4%, but if they sit between 100–120% of the median, the pay rise could be lower at around 0–2%.

The 2015 pay award was influenced by an “unstable salary market” and a “dramatically” changing pharmacy workforce, according to a letter sent to Boots’ pharmacists by Kevin Birch, the company’s retail pharmacy operations director. “We’ve looked at our market data and can see that our market rate is out of step with other salaries in the marketplace,” he wrote.

Boots confirmed in a statement that none of its pharmacists will have their pay cut under the new system. “In fact, most have seen annual increases for the past few years, including two increases this year,” the company said. “However, the average salary for pharmacists is based on the market, and current conditions mean the market rate has fallen slightly; we aim to pay pharmacists between 80% and 120% of the market rate, and this gives line managers flexibility to do what is right for the people working for them.”

The market rate used by Boots to determine salaries is based on its survey of what its competitors are paying their staff. Geography and other factors — including individual performance — are also taken into account before individual pay awards are set. Those pharmacists who are performing well could be awarded a rise above their median market rate at the discretion of their line manager.

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) Union, which represents around 2,500 Boots pharmacists, says it has been contacted by members who are unhappy with their pay rise.

Mark Pitt, the PDA Union’s assistant general secretary, is advising members to log an employee grievance if they are disappointed with their individual award.

The PDA Union is involved in an ongoing legal dispute with Boots over being allowed to negotiate terms and conditions for Boots pharmacists.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ December 2015 online

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