Staff medical appointments: a right to time off?

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There’s no legal right to paid or unpaid time off for staff to attend medical or dental appointments. So it’s for you to decide whether you let your employees go to appointments either on your time or on theirs. Ask staff to make appointments outside of work hours, or at the beginning or end of the day. But sometimes the only appointment left is at 11.30 am, and your employee can’t wait. Your staff need to know if they can attend medical and dental appointments during work time. Here’s where your contract of employment comes in. A well-drafted contract will cover:
  •         If time off for appointments is paid or not.
  •         How much paid time they’ll get back.
  •         If your staff need to work the time back.
Some staff have a legal right to time off for appointments… Pregnant employees A pregnant employee has a specific right to reasonable, paid time off work to attend antenatal appointments as long as they’re on the advice of a doctor, midwife or nurse. After their first appointment, you can ask your employee for their appointment card or evidence of future antenatal appointments. And don’t forget that if you have any future fathers in your workplace, they can also take unpaid time off for up to two antenatal appointments (up to a maximum of 6.5 hours for each one). Staff with disabilities Employees with either a physical or mental impairment under the Equality Act 2010 might need to go to more medical appointments than their colleagues. Make sure that you give staff with a disability reasonable time off, or you could risk a discrimination claim. Emergency appointments Teeth can crack and fillings fall out. And it’s likely you’ve suffered from a nasty cold or virus in the last twelve months. Even you need to go to emergency appointments—so the same goes for your staff. In these cases, you’ll need to treat the absence in the same way as any other medical appointment. Beware of a cover-up Genuine medical emergency or a job interview? Your suspicions might be confirmed when the same employee that went to an emergency medical appointment hands in their notice a week or so later. With proof, you could take a hard-line approach. Because you could say that lying about attending a medical appointment is gross misconduct, which could justify their dismissal. Or, if you want your employee to stick around, find out why they were looking elsewhere and see if you can persuade them to change their mind. Got an employee who’s had one too many emergency medical appointments? Contact us today.

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