Redundancy ‘a possibility’ for Boots pharmacists as it shuts 300 pharmacies, union says

The Pharmacists' Defence Association said it expects at-risk Boots employees to receive “adequate redundancy compensation".
Boots pharmacy shop front

Redundancy is a possibility for some pharmacists, following Boots’ decision to close 300 of its pharmacies, according to the union representing pharmacists at the multiple.

In a statement published on 4 July 2023, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) said that, although Boots had an objective not to make existing pharmacist employees redundant, it was “unlikely that suitable alternative roles will be available for all”, and “redundancy is a possibility for some”.

“If the Boots estate is reducing significantly, the need for relief pharmacists and other area roles may also reduce,” it added.

Boots’ parent company Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) announced the closures on 27 June 2023 in a presentation to investors on the company’s financial results for the quarter ending on 31 May 2023.

The pharmacies affected have yet to be announced, and the plans form part of the company’s ‘Transformational Cost Management Program’, which was first announced in 2019, when WBA said it planned to close 200 Boots stores, representing 8% of its stores at the time.

In January 2023, The Pharmaceutical Journal exclusively revealed that nearly all of these 200 pharmacies had closed.

Speaking to The Pharmaceutical Journal on 5 July 2023, Paul Day, director of the PDA, said: “In these scenarios, the employer is planning to remove a number of positions from their staffing structures due to closing those locations. If those roles are currently vacant (so being temporarily fulfilled by a locum) then no individual will be at risk of ‘redundancy’, but where an employee is in a post that is to be removed then they will be at potential risk of redundancy.”

As the multiple’s recognised trade union, the PDA union said it was given “confidential notice” prior to the formal announcement of the closures on 27 June 2023.

In its statement, the union added that PDA officials would be “in continued dialogue with the company throughout this closure programme”, as well as providing advice to members at risk of redundancy to help them understand the options available to them.

If their employment ends, the PDA said it expects them to receive “adequate redundancy compensation and fair treatment as they try and seek alternative employment during any notice period”.

The PDA has also warned that there are “likely to be wider consequences for other employees beyond those who could be at risk of redundancy”.

“For example, consolidating the workload of a closing pharmacy into alternative Boots locations may require additional resources, staffing, and physical space in the pharmacy expected to absorb that extra volume,” it said.

Day added: “Extra patients means extra stock to be delivered and stored, more patients and customers in the premises, more items, greater demand on consultation room availability etc., so we also want to ensure the health and safety, including manageable workloads, for staff in pharmacies that will be expected to absorb the volumes from nearby closures.”

On 5 July 2023, a spokesperson for Boots told The Pharmaceutical Journal that the multiple is making “ongoing investment into the rejuvenation of the store estate” in addition to “consolidating a number of stores in close proximity to each other”.

“Evolving the store estate in this way allows Boots to concentrate its team members where they are needed and focus investment more acutely in individual stores with the ambition of consistently delivering an excellent and reliable service in a fresh and up-to-date environment,” they added.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, July 2023, Vol 311, No 7975;311(7975)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2023.1.190747

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