PSA has been working to address one of the key issues raised by its members – remuneration – and is pleased to see the increased role of pharmacists recognised with a five per cent pay rise in last week’s Fair Work Commission (FWC) decision.
The increase, to be paid in two 2.5 per cent instalments, is a first step in recognising the vital role of pharmacists and their work value. In addition, the FWC’s decision provided for an additional allowance of $106.40 per week (or 10 per cent) from 1 October 2019 for an employee, classified as a Pharmacist, Experienced Pharmacist, Pharmacist in Charge or Pharmacist Manager, who is required by their employer as part of their employment conditions to perform Home Medicines Reviews (HMRs) or Residential Medication Management Reviews (RMMRs).
This allowance, combined with the five per cent wage increase, is a public recognition of the increase in the work value of pharmacists.
In PSA’s submission to the FWC, we called for accredited pharmacists who are required to perform RMMRs or HMRs to be paid an extra 18% of the minimum weekly wage applicable to a pharmacist on top of their award rate. Although falling short of our request, the FWC’s 10 per cent pay rise is a landmark ruling and a great step forward for the profession.
The profession provides a much broader range of services than in the past, and this will only continue to increase into the future. So, while we celebrate this win, now is not the time to rest on our laurels. We will continue to advocate for pharmacists – for recognition of their training, expertise and role as custodians of medicine safety – and the reflection of these in remuneration packages.
Despite this award increase, there remains a discrepancy between pharmacists’ extensive qualifications and their award rate. The inadequate remuneration for pharmacists fails to recognise the time they have devoted to education so they can deliver high-quality healthcare services. Increasing remuneration will reflect pharmacists’ vital contribution to the health system and help the pharmacy profession retain our best and brightest. This disparity issue is on the FWC’s agenda, and we stand ready to engage further on the issue.
A number of employers have expressed their concern about the impact this rate rise will have on their ability to employ staff and the viability of their businesses. We have heard those concerns, and consider that there is no better time to have a pay increase delivered for pharmacists than less than 12 months out from the next Community Pharmacy Agreement (CPA), with the very real opportunity to incorporate this and future rises within the context of the CPA.
We have also called for an increase in the role of pharmacists through access to the MBS, advocating for many years to develop funding models to reflect pharmacists’ extensive expertise and contribution to Australia’s health. Pharmacists have been calling for access to the MBS to reflect their skills, training and experience for longer than many of us can remember. And we will continue to campaign for this on your behalf.