Walmart pharmacy employees, who usually have less than 15 years of experience, have been on a hiring freeze since December 2017.
Some say they are forced to take lower-paying jobs to cover the salary gap.
In response, the chain has instituted a hiring bonus of $500,000 for every employee who retires before June 2018.
One pharmacists union leader said she’s disappointed with Walmart’s hiring freeze, saying the company is keeping some pharmacists at a disadvantage in the recruitment process.
“We’re just really disappointed, really, for a chain that has been very good about providing health care,” said Nancy Schumacher, president of the National Association of Pharmacists.
“We’re really disappointed in Walmart.”
Walmart has made several attempts to recruit more pharmacists, including hiring an additional 200 pharmacy technicians.
However, pharmacists say the company has not yet hired enough pharmacists.
“I think we are still a long way from that goal,” said Schumachers co-author, David J. Fennell.
“Walmart is really struggling with the pharmacists that are there.”
A Walmart spokesperson said the company’s hiring program, which pays $150,000 to each of its more than 1,000 pharmacists who complete a bachelor’s degree or higher, was not tied to the hiring freeze.
“While it is a part of our overall hiring program and is an important part of the overall plan, the timing of the freeze does not allow us to accurately assess our pharmacy hiring,” said a Walmart spokesperson.
The pharmacy hiring freeze is one of several measures the chain implemented to help boost the number of pharmacists in the industry.
The company also is recruiting more workers for its new pharmacy operations, including a pharmacy support center.
“This was a big step to improve the pharmacy experience for pharmacists,” said Jodi K. Zagorski, president and CEO of Pharmacy Training Alliance.
“It’s a really great step to keep pharmacists out of the back of the pharmacy and help them get the job done.”