Special leave for medical appointments:-
The simplest way for us to advise on this, is to just reprint the letter received by the CWU, 22June 2009.
22 June 2009
Dear Ms Mitchell
HOSPITAL APPOINTMENTS – TIME OFF FOR MEDICAL PURPOSES
Thank you for your letter of 3 June 2009 seeking clarity on the company’s position on the issue of time off for hospital appointments. I think, for the sake of clarity, I should set out verbatim what the policy actually states and follow that with a few words that will help to simplify and clarify what the company’s approach is and how it should be interpreted by managers.
The section of the policy that applies is set out below:
Time off for Medical Appointments:
Medical appointments, including GP and dental appointments should where possible be arranged during leave or scheduled time off, or an attendance swap arranged. In exceptional circumstances where this is not possible, maximum notice should be given of the need to take time off from work, for which casual leave may be requested. Every effort should be made to make arrangements which minimise the impact on the business, for example by seeking an early or late appointment.
Where regular medical appointments are necessary in respect of a disability, this should be managed under the principles of Managing Changing Capabilities. The manager, taking advice where necessary from the OHS should consider the need to make reasonable adjustments to the individual's attendance arrangements. This adjustment can be supported by one or more of the following options: paid special leave; casual leave; use of annual leave; temporary reduction in hours, flexible attendance according to the individual circumstances of the application.
Applications for leave relating to hospital appointments required for urgent diagnostic tests, consultations or emergency treatment should be considered under paid special leave terms.
For ease of understanding I will comment separately on each of the 3 paragraphs in the same order.
Paragraph 1 which refers to medical appointments in general is clear in that all employees are expected, wherever possible, to make every effort to arrange appointments outside of work time. Failing this, they can ask for casual leave which may be granted by the line manager. Casual leave can be up to 4 hours or half a day's paid leave to attend a one off appointment or deal with an emergency that does not fit within the special leave definition. The individual will normally be required to make up the time taken within a reasonable timeframe that should be agreed with their line manager, except in cases of distress.
On the paragraph regarding the management of a disability I think that is clear and needs no further explanation.
The real issue, as I see it, is in the interpretation of the final paragraph regarding special leave for hospital appointments. In your letter you accept that hospital appointments beyond the initial appointment can be scheduled and that this should be done in a way that minimises disruption to the business. Nonetheless we recognise that depending on working patterns, this may mean that hospital appointments will be during work time. In these instances, paid special leave should be considered and not be unreasonably refused. The company, however, recognises that initial hospital appointments whether it be for consultation or medical tests are not always within the control of the individual and in these instances paid special leave should be granted.
I trust the above clarifies the company’s position.