Feedback for Exemptions and Exclusions Under the Employment Standards Act

Pharmacist  ·  Dec. 15, 2017

I agree with the special advisors that Ontario should consider eliminating the exemptions to the ESA for pharmacists. The historical rationale is no longer relevant to practice environment today. The existing exemptions were implemented when a far greater proportion of community pharmacies were run by self-employed pharmacists. Today, there is a growing proportion of community pharmacies run by chains and corporate banners. The historical belief was that pharmacies should not interrupt care to their patients, but the reality is most cases and prescriptions in community pharmacy are not urgent. It's really more of a convenience rather than a necessity. Thus, it does not really affect access for patients. In my community pharmacy practice we do give the pharmacist regular breaks throughout the day. Our assistants know triage the situation to either tell the customer to wait or have the pharmacist interrupt their break.

Many community pharmacies are already paying for public holidays, vacation with pay as well as sick and personal leave days. For this, it would not affect employers too much as they already provide this benefit with the exception of those that do not do so. Regarding hours of work, some commentators from community pharmacy mentioned that they work 12 hour days but for fewer days each work. This is no different than in other industries where the employer allows for a compressed work week as long as there is an understanding with the employer and employee. Hospital and industry almost always follows the ESA for non-exempt professions and jobs titles.

As many community pharmacists already have some of ESA exemptions like paid vacations and holidays, the two that are most relevant are hours of work and overtime. There isn't a pharmacist shortage anymore in Ontario so having exceptions on hours of work/eating periods or paying overtime should one work more than 40 hours should not be exempted from the ESA from pharmacists anymore. As I previously mentioned, having break periods would not cause undue hardship on employers or the customers due to lack of urgency in most situations. In some places, community pharmacies even close half an hour for lunch. The job of a pharmacist requires a large amount of attention and a mental a physical break is important for those who are providing a level of care to the public. If there are going to be changes to this, certain parts of work would not be significant altered if at all. However overtime should not be exempted for community pharmacists as hospital pharmacists do get overtime or time in lieu off. Almost all pharmacist are hourly wage employees. The schedule is usually assigned by a manager.

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