Pharmacy staff underpaid

A FAIR Work Ombudsman campaign found almost 30 Tasmanian pharmacy employees had been underpaid.

The National Pharmacy Campaign 2012-13 final report, released today, shows that of the 38 audits in the state, 32 businesses were compliant with workplace laws and employee pay.

However, six had breaches, including four pharmacies that had underpaid 27 workers a total of $5529.

The largest recoveries were $2180 for two employees at a Launceston business, and about $2510 for 18 employees at a Burnie business.

Northern Tasmania had the worst compliance rate of 63 per cent among eight businesses audited.

The compliance rates were better in the South at 94 per cent of 16 pharmacies audited, and the North-West had 90 per cent of 10 businesses audited.

Most audits were in Launceston and Hobart, but the campaign also included Burnie, Devonport and surrounding areas.

The Ombudsman found the majority of Tasmanian pharmacy assistants were paid award rates, whereas all pharmacists were paid "well above" award rates.

Where underpayments were identified, many employers had already discovered these because of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia's pre-audit, with more than 90per cent of audited Tasmanian pharmacies having guild membership.

One Tasmanian pharmacy that had underpaid 18 employees had done a self-audit with the guild's help.

The audit revealed that the above-award rates paid to staff had failed to absorb the July 2012 pay increase.

The underpayments, across six months, totalled about $2510 and the employer rectified the payments.

Tasmania's compliance rate of 84 per cent was higher than the national figure of 75 per cent.

Nationwide, the Ombudsman recovered $280,912 for 599 underpaid employees across 98 pharmacies.

Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Michael Campbell said the audits started because the Ombudsman had received a large number of complaints (196) from privately owned community pharmacies - those not connected to hospitals - between July 2010 and September 2012.

More information about the campaign is available at www.fairwork.gov.au/pharmacy.

Email: ctang@examiner.com.au

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