Help, what time off is allowed to attend GP, Medical, and Dentist Appointments? We are asked on a regular basis, as an Employer what can you do in this circumstance (and other/s), for example, is the leave paid or unpaid? is it permitted, can you stipulate when appointments are taken, and can you make your Employee take Annual Leave; we have taken a look at some of the common questions we are asked and the myths surrounding this type of leave.
We hope you find it useful.
Is there legislation that permits leave to be taken for GP, Medical, and Dentist appointments?
As an Employee, there is no statutory right to time off for GP, Medical, and Dentist appointments whether this is paid or unpaid to attend routine GP, medical or dental appointments.
It is worth noting, however, that you may have Employees who do have the contractual right to time off in these circumstances and, depending on the individual terms of their Contract of Employment, the time may be either paid or unpaid, their Contract of Employment may also indicate a ‘maximum’ duration for each appointment.
As an Employer you would not be acting unreasonably to request Employees make their GP, medical and dentist appointments outside of their normal working hours, where this is practically possible, you may also want to add that any such appointments are made at either the beginning or the end of the working day, therefore minimising disruption to your operations/service levels.
Can I Request they take Annual Leave Instead?
Once again you would need to refer to the Employee/s individual terms of Contract of Employment, based on the assumption their contract allows you
- Request or allow for them to take time off from their annual leave, or
- If they have no unpaid and untaken annual leave entitlement, then you could give them the time off as unpaid leave, or
- Alternatively, you can agree with them to make up the time on a different day.
How do I communicate this to my Employees?
You should have a Policy & Procedure in place within your business, this could either be added to your Employee Handbook or a separate Policy & Procedure, you should ensure you set out the details of your Policy & Procedure covering the areas above.
Your Policy & Procedure should set out what is expected of your Employees, and also what procedures they should follow.
As an Employer you should act reasonably when dealing with requests and we always advise that you use a fair and consistent approach when dealing with time off for GP, Medical, and Dentist appointments.
What about Time off for Emergencies?
We all know that becoming poorly doesn’t always come with a warning, in this instance GP, medical or dental emergencies requiring unforeseen, and or urgent medical or dental attention.
In this instance, as an Employer you would treat the absence as such, bearing in mind more than likely to fall within the remit of sickness absence.
What about Hospital Admissions?
In the instance where Employee/s are admitted to hospital, this may be to undergo an operation or they are undergoing tests; as the Employer, you would treat this as Sickness Absence and either statutory or contractual sick payments would be due to your Employee whilst they are in hospital and possibly recuperating.
What about Employees who have Antenatal Appointments?
All Pregnant Employees have a specific statutory right under ss.55 and 56 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 to reasonable time off work, and this is with pay to attend antenatal appointments made on the advice of a GP, doctor, midwife, or registered nurse.
Antenatal care does not just include medical examinations, it can include other appointments such as:
- Relaxation Classes
- Parentcraft Classes
As an Employer can I ask for Proof of Appointments?
As an Employer, whilst you cannot for the first appointment, you can request the Employee produce a medical confirmation of the pregnancy, this is called a Mat B1 form, you can also ask for an appointment card which will show that the antenatal appointment has been made.
Can Prospective Fathers/prospective partners Take Time off too?
An Employee who is the prospective father, or the partner of the pregnant person, can take unpaid time off to attend up to two antenatal appointments.
What if my Employee has a disability?
Employees with disabilities may need time off for medical appointments as a result of this; as an Employer, you should work with your Employee and give the time as requested.
As an Employer failing to allow for paid time off for medical appointments connected with disabilities could be deemed as discrimination arising out of a disability, which can result in an unlimited compensation payout at the employment tribunal.
Here to Help
Remember, to act reasonably, fairly, to have policies and procedures that are communicated and understood in your business, to also ensure you have Contracts of Employment adhering to contractual terms contained within these for your Employees; we find time and time again that businesses that take this approach will see a reduction in sickness levels, we also find it reduces attrition rates and creates a culture that is positive.
HR and You’s handbooks and policies are fully in line with current legislation in regard to Disability Discrimination – and should you find yourself requiring help, support, and or assistance with policy writing for your Time off for Medical Appointments, Emergency Leave, Antenatal Care, and of course your Contracts of Employment, we would be more than happy to help advise and guide you towards the ideal solution for you, your Employee, and your Business.
We are here to provide full advice, support, and guidance. We can advise in any HR or Employment Law matter: you can contact a member of our team on 0333 006 9489 or [email protected]
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