With the well-documented pressures on the National Health Service it is increasingly the case that an employee needing a doctor’s or medical appointment will have little choice regarding the timing of that appointment. It’s fine for an employer to express a preference that the employee will arrange these outside office hours but in practice this simply may not be possible.
So how is an employer to deal with a request for time off to attend a medical appointment?
The first thing to note is that a planned appointment is by definition not covered by sickness absence provisions. This may sound strange, but the purpose of sickness absence is to cover unexpected and unplanned absence caused by sickness or ill health. (Of course if an employee is sick and needs to go to the doctor/hospital unexpectedly then that would be covered by sickness provisions.)
Equally, however, holiday absence is designated time for an employee’s rest and relaxation, which doesn’t really fit with attending the GP surgery or hospital. In practice, employees use holiday absence for all sorts of things other than rest but it is important to be aware that this is its primary purpose.
The options for dealing with this type of absence are as follows: