How Much Do Locum Pharmacists Earn in 2024?

5 Mins

First of all, there are no set locum pharmacist rates in the UK. This is due to anti-competi...

James Roberts

By James Roberts

First of all, there are no set locum pharmacist rates in the UK. This is due to anti-competition laws, which restrict locums from collectively setting a fixed minimum rate.

According to an analysis conducted by Chemist+Druggist, the UK average hourly rate for a locum pharmacist was £38.44 in October 2023, dropping 30p since March 2023, when the average locum pharmacist rate was £38.74 per hour. According to Indeed, the average annual salary of a permanent pharmacist in the UK is £49,562 per year.

For comparison, this means a pharmacist earning the average hourly locum rate for pharmacists of £38.44 would need to work an average of 26 hours a week across the entire year to match the average permanent pharmacist salary. So from a purely financial perspective, it may seem like a locum pharmacist rate only really starts to become worthwhile at the higher end of the salary scale. But looking at the above terms is a bit of an oversimplification, and there are a number of financial and non-financial benefits to working as a locum pharmacist.

Benefits of Earning a Locum Pharmacist Salary

Firstly, as a locum pharmacist, you get to choose how often you work. So if you want to earn more, you can simply pick up more pharmacist locum shifts. Additionally, given that the locum pharmacist salary is typically paid on an hourly basis, you get paid for the exact time that you work. This can differ from permanent, salaried pharmacy jobs, where not all employers pay overtime for any extra hours worked. In this sense, working a pharmacist locum shift can be a way to ensure you aren’t working any unpaid extra hours and get paid for every hour put in. Working with a reliable pharmacy locum agency can help you find positions with attractive hourly rates and minimise downtime between assignments.

One other plus of pocketing a locum pharmacist salary is that there are still some locum pharmacist jobs out there that are outside of IR35, which means you can invoice for your work through a limited company, which has some tax advantages. These jobs, however, are becoming rarer, meaning many locum jobs will be treated as PAYE. 

On top of the financial benefits of a locum pharmacist salary, locums can also enjoy the flexibility of being able to work where, when, and how often they want, and it can be a great way to expand your professional network and build up experience in a variety of clinical settings.

Are There Disadvantages to Working as a Locum Pharmacist?

As with any type of work, there are some downsides to locum pharmacist positions. While a locum pharmacist salary may appear appealing on the surface, the financial upsides need to be balanced with the understanding that you will miss out on some benefits available to permanent, salaried pharmacists.

One major downside is that the work isn’t set in stone. Employers often use locum pharmacists to fill temporary gaps in their rota. And employing locums is more expensive than a permanent hire. So it’s entirely possible that your current locum pharmacist position might not be there long-term. And the work can be cancelled with relatively short notice.

There’s also the issue that, as a self-employed pharmacist, you aren’t subject to all the usual employee rights and protections that a regular, salaried employer would have, including holiday pay and sick pay. So you will need to keep some of the extra earnings you make as a locum pharmacist aside in case you can’t work through sickness or if you’d like to take some vacation time.

Making the Right Choice For You as a Pharmacist

Despite these downsides, locum work is a great setup for many pharmacists. For example, if you’re a student pharmacist and want to build up some extra experience (and income!) in your field, or if you’re a new mother looking to ease back into employment, picking up pharmacist locum shifts could be a fantastic option. Or maybe you’re saving for a house and looking to maximise your savings. A locum pharmacist salary can allow you to earn a lot of money quickly.

On the other hand, maybe you want to join a company that will allow you the opportunity to progress into a management position and be the person who takes responsibility for certain aspects of the business. Maybe you’re that person who likes to know exactly what your work pattern looks like each week and know that, whatever happens, you’re going to get paid at the end of the month. If this sounds like you, perhaps a permanent pharmacy position is more suitable.

Ultimately, why not do both? The beauty of locum pharmacist positions is that you’re not stuck! If it turns out it’s not for you, you can move on to a permanent role with little to no notice.

Utilise a Pharmacy Locum Agency

Searching for locum pharmacist jobs can be time-consuming, but a pharmacy locum agency simplifies the process. Quad Recruitment's dedicated team can match your skills, availability, and preferences with suitable opportunities efficiently. This allows you to focus on what you do best. We prioritise your preferences regarding when and where you want to work. Additionally, our team of consultants provides ongoing support, ensuring a smooth experience throughout your locum pharmacist shifts.

If you’re interested in getting set up as a locum pharmacist, check out our locum hub for more information, or register with us today.