This site is intended for Healthcare Professionals only

PDA: Buyers of ex-Lloyds branches ‘may have dodged TUPE obligations’


PDA: Buyers of ex-Lloyds branches ‘may have dodged TUPE obligations’

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association has begun proceedings against 86 pharmacy companies in what it describes as a bid to safeguard the rights of ex-LloydsPharmacy pharmacists whose roles have transferred to new employers.

In a statement today (September 11), the PDA said it had begun “early conciliation” talks with the Government arbitration body ACAS with regard to allegations that employers “may not have undertaken the necessary consultation as required under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations (TUPE)”.

The PDA explained that in order to facilitate the sale of a large number of branches UK-wide, LloydsPharmacy has created subsidiary companies or NewCos and then divested them via share sale processes.

The organisation said that in a share sale, the transferred staff continue to be employed by the NewCo despite the company itself having been bought outright by the new purchaser. Contrastingly, in an asset sale where the business employing staff changes in identity, TUPE regulations are engaged in order to protect their rights.

PDA Union general secretary Mark Pitt explained: “In a normal share sale transfer, nothing of significance should change for employees as the identity of the business remains the same.

“By contrast what we are hearing from some former Lloyds employees is that reporting lines, salary arrangements, supply chains, SOPs and much more have all changed.

“This suggests a transfer, which should have been protected by TUPE, may have already occurred.”

The organisation says it has obtained “expert legal opinion” indicating that these reported changes to pharmacists’ working practices “mean the transfers that have occurred should already have come under the protection of TUPE”.

“The PDAU has therefore acted upon that advice by starting the first steps in a legal process to protect the interest of its members,” it said, adding that some of the new owners of these branches “have included some of the most well-known community pharmacy businesses”.

“So far early conciliation has been commenced against LloydsPharmacy as well as 63 NewCos and 22 buyers,” it said.

Commenting that TUPE legislation is “notoriously complex and technical,” the PDA said that if conciliation stage discussions do not resolve this issue, claims may then be brought to the employment tribunal. 

It concluded: “Where a TUPE transfer occurs, if an employer either deliberately or in error fails to consult individually or collectively through a recognised trade union, an employment tribunal can award up to 13 weeks of gross pay as compensation to affected employees.”

Copy Link copy link button