Is your pharmacy discriminating when recruiting?

The NPA Employment Law Advisory Service Team can provide you with guidance.


Whether you like to admit it or not, we all have our own bias which can shape our recruitment decisions.

Bias is a problem for your pharmacy because it can mean you miss out on some fantastic talent, lead to a less diverse workforce and put you at risk of unlawful discrimination claims.

How could employers expose themselves to risk?

Under the Equality Act, employers cannot discriminate, either directly or indirectly, on the basis of any of the ‘protected characteristics’. These protected characteristics are age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

This covers the recruitment process, so includes when drafting job adverts, sifting through CVs and the interview process itself.

Job adverts

When you draft job adverts, you need to take care when using gender-specific terms and refrain from using phrases such as ‘mature’ unless they are actual requirements for the job role. Otherwise you leave your pharmacy at risk of claims of sex or age discrimination. The NPA Employment Law Advisory Service Team can provide you with guidance.

Sifting through CVs

Direct discrimination covers ‘discrimination by perception’. This occurs when where a person is treated less favourably because other people believe they have a protected characteristic, but in they do not.

For example, you pick up a CV and read the person’s name. You reject them (a white female) because you think she was Black because of her African-sounding name.

Interview process

It’s useful to ask the same set of questions to all candidates to probe into their education, experience, skills set, knowledge, etc. This makes the process as fair and objective as possible. It should also help you to recruit the best qualified person for the role.

It’s also important to refrain from asking any questions that imply you discriminate against people based on the protected characteristics such as their age, disability, marital status, race, religion or sex.

If they provide information without you asking, you should not allow the information to influence your decision.

To discuss this further, contact the NPA Employment Law Advisory Service Team on 0330 123 0558 or

You may have heard that fees to access Employment Tribunals were abolished by the Supreme Court earlier this year, but what does it actually mean for pharmacies?

Fees for those bringing employment tribunal claims have been ruled unlawful, and the government will now have to repay up to £32m to claimants.

Here is what we know at this stage.

What is happening in the aftermath of the judgment?

For those individuals who paid fees at an Employment Tribunal or Employment Appeal Tribunal between July 2013 and July 2017, they can now apply for a refund. This includes employers, so if you were ordered by a tribunal to reimburse the fees of an employee who brought a claim against you and you have evidence that demonstrates this, you can apply for a refund.

So what does this all mean for pharmacies?

The latest statistics show that the number of single claims to Employment Tribunals has increased significantly. Since the second quarter of 2014/15, the number of single claims has been ‘relatively stable’ with approximately 4,200 claims made per quarter. However, between July and September 2017, it rose to 7,042 claims.

This shows that it’s time for all pharmacy owners to make sure their employment practices can stand up to scrutiny.

To do this, here are four key tips for your pharmacy:

  1. Make sure all your employees are on the right contract and you understand the obligations for each type of contract.
  2. Review your Employee Handbook to make sure that you have clear and robust policies and procedures in place which comply with current legislation.
  3. Make sure all managers have been suitably trained in HR and Employment Law matters.
  4. Seek legal advice when dealing with complex workplace issues, for example grievances, dismissal and TUPE.

To discuss the impact on your pharmacy, call the NPA Employment Law Advisory Service Team on 0330 123 0558 or email to find out more. 


Author:  NPA Employment Advisory Service Team

Dealing with annual leave requests

Most of us want to enjoy the summer sunshine. But as employers, you will often face the difficult task of dealing with numerous annual leave requests, refusing leave and cancelling pre-approved holidays.

Your pharmacy’s workplace rules should set out how much notice an employee needs to provide, how the leave must be booked and how many consecutive working days can be booked. Contact the NPA Employment Law Advisory Service for guidance on your annual leave policy.

Dealing with holiday requests

If everyone wants to have the same days off, you could grant leave on the basis of “first come, first served”. If your pharmacy is open all year around, you could also consider allowing people to choose between time off at Christmas and summer.

You should encourage your team to collaborate with each other to coordinate leave to ensure operational business requirements are met and issues are quickly resolved.

Refusing annual leave

To say no to a request, you must give the employee counter-notice. The length of the notice must be equivalent to the period of leave that the employee was trying to book.

It is also possible that to force your employees to take annual leave or ban them from taking leave certain times of the year.

Cancelling annual leave

The law does allow an employer to cancel an employee’s annual leave that you have previously approved. To do this, you must provide the appropriate amount of notice. The length of the notice must be equivalent to the period of leave that the employee planned to take.

You also need to be aware that you must not cancel annual leave if it means that the employee cannot take their full statutory annual leave entitlement in that leave year.

For tailored advice, call the NPA Employment Law Advisory Service Team on 0330 123 0558 or email for more advice.

Do you suspect that there are malingerers – employees who are lying or exaggerating their illness or injury to avoid attending work – in your workplace?

Does there seem to be an epidemic of employees who contract a 24-hour virus on Fridays? Or perhaps who take regular short-term absences when a big sporting event is on?

Malingerers are something that many pharmacies face, but there is no reason to feel like it is an unmanageable situation.

There are some things you can do if you suspect someone is malingering.

Conduct return to work interviews

After each absence, you should carry out a return to work interview to probe into the reason for the absence. If you have noticed particular patterns or they have many frequent short-term absences, you can ask them whether there is a reason for it.

If the employee is malingering, it may act as a deterrent to know that their absences have been monitored, you are spotting specific trends and that disciplinary action may be taken.

Ask for medical evidence

If you have vague or inadequate reasons for absences, you may wish to ask for medical evidence. You can obtain medical evidence either from a GP or an Occupational Health Report. However, you will typically need the employee’s written authorisation.

Asking for medical evidence may have the effect that absences reduce as it suddenly dawns on the employee that they are unable to provide any real evidence.

If they decline or are very reluctant to consent to medical evidence, you will need to probe as to why.

Investigate the alleged misconduct

Conducting a well-thought out investigation allows managers to consider the matter fully before deciding whether disciplinary action is necessary.

For advice on this topic, call the NPA Employment Law Advisory Service Team on 0330 123 0558 or email