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ASDA Pharmacists may be impacted by hours reduction

The PDA will be supporting their members to deal with any potential impact from a reported decision by Asda to reduce the operating hours in 80 of its pharmacies across England and Wales.

Fri 1st April 2022 PDA Union

Media reports claim that ASDA have decided to follow the recent trend set by other Community Chemists Association (CCA) members and cut the operating hours in 80 of its pharmacies across England and Wales from next month. The PDA is focused on supporting members and providing representation to ensure pharmacists understand and can exercise their rights at work.

The PDA is the independent trade union for employed and locum pharmacists and will be supporting members with any consequences of this decision.  While the exact details of this proposal are yet to emerge, the PDA’s experience supporting pharmacists at other employers suggest likely issues could include:

  • Unless suitable alternative hours can be agreed, pharmacists may face reduced hours meaning a proportionate cut in pay, just as the cost of living crisis really hits.
  • The end of existing contractual arrangements for an employee, may mean an entitlement to redundancy if no suitable alternative employment can be found.
  • Bad employers may seek to avoid paying redundancy severance by instead attempting to Fire and Rehire employees
  • Enforced changes of working hours may impact some parts of the workforce harder, e.g. those with caring responsibilities or certain disabilities may find it harder to work alternative patterns, and that could prove to be discriminatory.
  • Blanket statements that the existing weekly workload can be undertaken in less working hours often prove to be disconnected from the reality.

The PDA’s immediate advice to members is to read carefully and keep copies of all communications from the employer about this proposal; to check they have an up to date copy of their employment contract (ask your manager if you do not currently have a copy); and ensure any formal proposals for alternative working patterns are provided in writing.

The PDA have also recently written to the Superintendent at Asda about safety standards, including that more than 99% of pharmacists responding to the annual Safer Pharmacies Survey reported that CCA member pharmacies had unsafe staffing levels. A response has not yet been received, however all pharmacists, when acting as the RP, need to be satisfied that there will be sufficient trained and competent staff with the correct skill mix, to operate the pharmacy safely.  Pharmacists are therefore encouraged to be clear on what staffing levels are proposed alongside any changes to hours and raise concerns with anything that appears unsafe.

This particular announcement, and others by large, high profile pharmacy chains are of significant concern at a strategic level too.  Community pharmacy is a critical component of the health system and the most accessible part for the public. The NHS and governments across the UK are actively considering the future of the health systems post-covid and the accessibility of the community pharmacy sector underpins the opportunity to convince decision makers to better fund and make more of what pharmacists can do for patients. However, the more closures and hours reductions that occur, the less accessible community pharmacy appears to be and the businesses choosing to make these cuts risk accelerating the cycle of decline for the sector.

What next

PDA members who require specific support should contact the PDA Service Centre .

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The Pharmacists' Defence Association is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England; Company No 4746656.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is an appointed representative in respect of insurance mediation activities only of
The Pharmacy Insurance Agency Limited which is registered in England and Wales under company number 2591975
and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Register No 307063)

The PDA Union is recognised by the Certification Officer as an independent trade union.

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