The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) has issued advice following a spate of reports that several pharmacists aged over 40 years have been invited to meetings regarding ‘alleged performance or conduct issues’.
The pharmacists in question were then subsequently threatened with disciplinary action or told they could leave the business with a small level of compensation, according the to the PDA.
Assistant general secretary of the union, Mark Pitt, said all the recent cases, thought to number half a dozen or more, happened at the same multiple, which he would not name.
He said the long-serving pharmacists, who were mainly in their 40s, were allegedly called to no-notice meetings where they were told there was a performance issue with their work. They were then told they could go through disciplinary procedures, which could result in a demotion or termination of their contract, or ‘go quietly’ on a no-prejudice basis, but with only a small amount of compensation, he said.
“Our concern is that this seems to be a bit of a cull, really,” he explained.
“These are financially chilling times, and firms are looking at the staff they have and seeing that longer-term pharmacists will tend to be on higher salaries.
“They know they can get someone in fresh from their pre-registration year on a much lower salary.
“This is a very short-term approach because it takes no account of the experience and knowledge of the longer-serving pharmacists.”
Pitt said capability and performance issues were often complex but that there was an argument that discrimination against older pharmacists was taking place.
He also warned that the financial squeeze on pharmacies was piling pressure on pharmacists, which in turn could lead to situations where performance could be criticised.
The PDA has now reminded its members that if they are told of a disciplinary process concerning their performance or conduct, or if their management talks to them about providing them with an exit package from the organisation, they should contact the PDA immediately.
Since the association raised the issue, it has been contacted by several pharmacists with concerns about their own treatment.
The association has now written to the superintendent pharmacist at the firm involved who has insisted that their procedures have been fair and consistent.