Wages and conditions experienced by many pharmacists are some of the worst of any healthcare professional, especially when considering the responsibilities and pressures you face on a daily basis.
The official data shows that the rates of pay for pharmacists are the lowest of all graduates in Australia.
This is something that starts from the very beginning of a community pharmacist’s career.
Graduate Careers Australia’s (GCA) annual Australian Graduate Survey shows that pharmacists’ starting average salary, at $39,000 per annum, is the worst of all university graduates.
This is lower than humanities and social sciences, agricultural science and art and design graduates.
Incredibly, the amount being paid to first year graduates is below what is set out in the Pharmacy Industry Award – meaning that many are being paid illegal rates of pay.
Pharmacists’ salaries are lagging the field
Many skilled trades are now paying higher salaries than those received by pharmacists. A plumber earns, on average, $85,000 per annum, an electrician $84,000.
Both these trades have a strong union.
It’s not right. While all occupations make important contributions to society, pharmacists play a critical role in keeping people healthy and productive.
High levels of Part-Time and Casual employment
Rates of pay are just one part of the problem.
Every year we conduct a respected remuneration survey to monitor the real rates of pay and working conditions of pharmacists like you. The 2012 survey was completed by 1,320 pharmacists across Australia.
Key findings included:
- The average base hourly rate has increased by 2.3% compared to 3-4% achieved by other groups;
- 63% of pharmacists work through lunch, with 50% not being paid;
- 43% of pharmacists are employed as part-timers and 24% as casuals;
- 33% of Pharmacists would like more hours of work;
- 37% of Pharmacists have not had a salary review since 2009
A large number of part-time or casual pharmacists would like to work more than they currently do. So on top of getting paid less than they deserve, many pharmacists’ take home pay is further reduced because they can’t work the hours they want.
To add insult to injury pay increases are significantly less than other comparable sectors. This means that every year pharmacists drop further and further behind.
Fair Work Australia Audit finds further problems
Further evidence of the situation facing non-owner community pharmacists can be found in the recent Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) 2012 audit of pharmacies in Queensland.
The FWO investigated 575 Queensland pharmacies and found that a staggering 44% were not paying their staff properly.
What this audit found was that not only are Pharmacists’ conditions often worse that other professions, a great many of them are getting illegally low rates of pay.
This makes a bad situation worse.
As a result of this the FWO is now conducting a full national audit into pharmacy to try to ensure that pharmacists are, at the very least, being paid according to the requirements of the law.
Comparison to Hospital Pharmacy
As experienced pharmacists would remember, there was a time when community pharmacy was seen as being a more lucrative career option than hospital pharmacy.
Unfortunately this is no longer the case.
The role of hospital pharmacists has developed greatly over recent years, with pharmacists working in wards alongside their fellow healthcare professionals, playing a vital role in healthcare delivery.
Rates of pay and conditions have also leap-frogged that of community pharmacists.
Our recent remuneration survey found the levels of full time employment in hospital pharmacy were much higher than those in community pharmacy and their rates of pay were much better.
For example, a permanent full time hospital pharmacist receives an average hourly rate of pay of $41.76 while the median hourly rate for a pharmacist in community pharmacy was just $35.55.
That means that over the course of a year a hospital pharmacist could expect to earn $10,000 more than their colleague working in community pharmacy.