Almost 100 pharmacists are pursuing legal action against LloydsPharmacy following redundancies made after the closure of all LloydsPharmacy branches in Sainsbury’s supermarkets, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) has said.
The former supermarket employees are making the claim in a bid to win enhanced redundancy payments, which they say formed part of their conditions of employment when they worked for Sainsbury’s.
LloydsPharmacy’s then owners, Celesio UK, bought Sainsbury’s pharmacies in 2016. As part of this, the PDA says pharmacists should have seen their enhanced redundancy pay arrangements transferred, along with other conditions of employment, under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations (TUPE).
However, following the closure of all 237 Sainsbury’s LloydsPharmacy branches in June 2023, some staff who were made redundant were paid only basic statutory redundancy compensation, the union said.
As a result, some of the pharmacists who had previously been employed by Sainsbury’s have begun legal action against LloydsPharmacy.
Mark Pitt, general secretary of the PDA Union, said: “PDA members tell us they feel badly let down and believe LloydsPharmacy have reneged on their obligations under TUPE. Nearly 100 members impacted by the company’s position sought the support of PDA to secure their entitlement.
“Union lawyers working alongside a specialist barrister in this complex area of law have now lodged multiple claims in the employment tribunal system on behalf of PDA members.
“Tribunal claims related to TUPE are complex and case law is continuously evolving so we will be monitoring developments as the evidence unfolds.”
Following the closure of the LloydsPharmacy Sainsbury’s branches in June 2023, Paul Day, director of the PDA, said: “We know there were approximately 400 pharmacists, and possibly about five times as many non-pharmacists, in the Sainsbury’s stores when the original [closure] announcement was made.”
Day added at the time that unless they have secured an alternative role at LloydsPharmacy by filling an existing vacancy, they could soon be made redundant, although he stressed that “exactly how many pharmacists end up redundant remains to be seen”.
A spokesperson for LloydsPharmacy said: “In January 2023, LloydsPharmacy announced the withdrawal of pharmacy services from all Sainsbury’s stores, to take place throughout 2023. Since then, LloydsPharmacy has been working hard to support all colleagues affected by the process.
“In doing so, LloydsPharmacy has ensured that it is acting responsibly and equitably towards all colleagues impacted by the change, including paying statutory redundancy pay in line with our policies.”