Feedback for Exemptions and Exclusions Under the Employment Standards Act

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 20, 2017

Exempting pharmacists from ESA rules may have made sense at a time when most pharmacists were pharmacy owners or were at least provided a modicum of autonomy in navigating their day. Unfortunately, the pharmacy landscape has turned into an oligopoly with a few retail behemoths controlling the marketplace. So today, when the vast majority of pharmacists are essentially retail workers, we are in desperate need of of the protections that the ESA provides. The ESA exemptions have allowed companies to reduce staffing to unsafe levels, endangering public safety in the process.

First of all, pharmacists must have a meal break. It is farcical that this has not been done already. I personally work 12 hour days without a meal or bathroom break. As a result, I am often filling and dispensing prescriptions whilst suffering from hypoglycemia. I know that this is unsafe, and have spoken with my superiors about my concerns, only to be told that pharmacists are not legally entitled to meal breaks and that I'll just have to deal with it. The ESA exemptions have allowed employers to shirk responsibility and left pharmacists with no recourse. I am grateful that I have not made a major dispensing error yet, but this is a catastrophe waiting to happen.

Most employee pharmacists are already provided with vacation pay, pay for public holidays, and have access to emergency personal leave. So there is no reason why these requirements shouldn't be crystallized in law. By bringing in requirements for overtime pay, we can ensure that companies are hiring enough pharmacists to handle the workload, since the pay premium will ensure that they are not overburdening their existing employees. If we require meal breaks for pharmacists, employers will either arrange for pharmacist overlap or the dispensary will be closed for a mere half hour (like most physician / dental / chiropractor offices do).

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