Walmart reportedly is asking some of its 16,000 pharmacists across the United States to voluntarily take pay cuts and reduce their working hours in an effort to reduce costs, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The cuts are aimed at pharmacists in higher wage brackets and underscore the new pressures at Walmart pharmacies, where customers are forming lines to purchase high priced weight-loss drugs, that are weighing on profits, the Reuters report said.
Additionally, Walmart is facing legal costs this year, with a agreement in late 2022 to pay $3.1 billion as its share of an opioid-related legal settlement.
The Reuters report cited a source who attended a meeting in May, where senior Walmart field leadership asked 20 market leaders - directors of 10 to 15 stores in an area—to start asking pharmacists to voluntarily reduce their base salary hours. For example, a pharmacist could go from an 80-hour, two-week pay period to one lasting 64 or 72 hours, the source told Reuters.
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The market leaders who attended the meeting represented Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Louisiana, however the move was presented as a nationwide one, the source told Reuters.
Leaders were asked to start hiring pharmacists at lower base hours to reduce the pool of pharmacists getting higher salaries, the person said, adding that the moves were being led by Davey Lavergne, Walmart's vice president of Health and Wellness.
On average, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retail chain pays its pharmacists more than $140,000 a year, excluding bonuses and incentives, Reuters said, citing Walmart.
Walmart provided Drug Store News with the following statement: “The recent media report is inaccurate. We are not cutting pay for our pharmacists. In fact, we have recently raised wages for both pharmacists and pharmacy techs. In addition, we are actively hiring pharmacists in many markets across the country and continue to see demand grow for their services. We’re proud of the work they do every day to help their patients live better.”
[Read more: Walmart posts revenue growth in Q2]
A Walmart spokesperson, Marilee McInnis, told Reuters that the company was "committed to creating a great place to work" through work-life balance and competitive pay, and was hiring pharmacists as it sees demand for their services grow.
Earlier this year, Walmart reduced the hours it operates its pharmacies by two hours at more than 4,500 U.S. stores, amid a shortage of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians that began during the pandemic, the report said.