The Pharmacy Award Review

What’s the Pharmacy Award Review about?

In 2016, Professional Pharmacists Australia made an application to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to increase the award rate in the Pharmacy Award 2010 on work value grounds.

The union argued that the role and responsibilities of pharmacists had increased at work and the award rate was no longer a fair reflection of what pharmacists do.

 Work value reasons are reasons related to the nature of the work, skills and responsibility, and conditions under
 which work is done.

At the time, PPA’s application was opposed by the Pharmacy Guild and other employer groups and ultimately resulted in a five per cent increase to the award rate, and the creation of allowances for Home Medicines Reviews and Residential Medication Management Reviews.

However, the wage increase was not passed on to graduate pharmacists.

In the case, the FWC did identify a non-alignment between the rates in the Pharmacy Award and traditional relativities to the Metals Award. The Commission also noted a lack of consistency with the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) and the graduate rate.

From the early 1990s the award rate for a four-year degree-qualified science and engineering professional was set at 130% of the C10 rate in the Metals Award (now the Manufacturing Award). Over time, that percentage has become compressed due to recurring flat dollar annual wage increases. The pharmacy intern rate is currently around 105-109% of the C10 rate in the Manufacturing Award.

Due to these findings, the FWC indicated that it would review all awards with a graduate classification at a later stage as well as resuming the review of the Pharmacy Award.

Six years on, the Pharmacy Award review is due to commence and PPA will be advocating for an increase to the graduate pharmacist pay rates.

What does the review mean?

This will be the first time in around 20 years that the graduate rate in pharmacy will be reviewed by the FWC from a work value perspective. The case may also provide some clarity about what bearing, if any, traditional relativities to the Manufacturing Award and the AQF should have on determining the award pay rates.

PPA is hopeful that the case will improve the award rate for graduates. The existing graduate award rates are below that of other comparable four-year degree qualified professions and it is the union’s argument that pharmacy award rates should be at least in line with those of other professions.

We also want to ensure that pharmacy remains an attractive career option for students.

Does this look right to you?

Pharmacy Industry Award 2020 Professional Employees Award 2020 Educational Services (Teachers) Award 2020 Nurses Award 2020
 Four- year degree qualified rate $992.50*
(First 6-months)
 $1,105.08*  $1,273*  $1,070.50*
(Second 6-months)

*Current as of 1 July 2022.

What is the union’s role in the review?

The union's legal team is working on the review to represent the interests of our pharmacy members. 

The review is in its early stages, however so far PPA has briefed counsel in relation to the continuation of the Pharmacy Award review.

Currently, the team is working on a Statement of Agreed Facts with the Pharmacy Guild and refining the issues that are in dispute.

The point of the Agreed Facts statement is to reduce the evidentiary burden for proving that the award rates should be increased.

How can I help?

Watch this space – we may need members to provide evidence for us in support of this review.

Also – join the union! Awards do not write themselves. This is the invisible sort of work that unions do every day that benefits entire professions. The more members we have in the pharmacy industry, the stronger our voice and ability to advocate for important changes such as these and improve the working lives of professionals across Australia.

This legal update was prepared by Greg Hall, a lawyer at Professionals Australia. Greg has been seconded to work specifically on the Graduate Rates Review.