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Guidance for line managers: Medical and Elective Procedures

The University recognises that employees will, from time to time, need to attend medical appointments. Employees should endeavour to arrange medical appointments in their own time or, if this is not possible, at times that will cause the minimum amount of absence from work or inconvenience to the University. However, because the University accepts that it is not always possible to arrange medical appointments outside working hours, it is the University's policy to permit reasonable time off work for such appointments. Provided that the employee gives their line manager reasonable notice of the date and time of an appointment, time off with pay will normally be granted, although this is subject to the discretion of the employee's line manager.

Where time off for medical appointments becomes frequent or regular, or starts to cause difficulties for the employee's department, the line manager has the discretion either to require the employee to make up for the time off by working extra time on another occasion, or to grant any further time off without pay. Employees must obtain approval from their line manager in advance of any appointment. The line manager can ask the employee to reschedule an appointment if its timing would cause disruption to the University's business. The line manager may also, at their discretion, ask the employee to produce confirmation of the appointment.

Employees who are pregnant have the statutory right not to be unreasonably refused paid time off work for antenatal appointments where the employee's attendance has been recommended by a registered medical practitioner, midwife, or nurse. Paid time off in such circumstances will automatically be granted, although employees should endeavour to arrange appointments outside working hours. Nevertheless, the employee should give reasonable notice of the date and time of the appointment to their line manager where possible and the line manager will still have the right to request to see the confirmation of the employee's appointments.

A prospective father, or partner of a pregnant woman, can take unpaid time off to attend up to two antenatal appointments.

The University recognises that, occasionally employees may need to request a short period of leave to undergo an elective procedure. The University defines elective procedures as non-essential surgical procedure that the employee has chosen to undergo for personal reasons, for example fertility treatment or laser eye surgery.

To accommodate reasonable time-off for an elective procedure, an employee may seek to request to use part of their annual holiday entitlement or agree with their manager a short period of unpaid leave, for the procedure or appointments and reasonable recovery time. As the request will require prior agreement from the individual’s manager, it is recommended that early discussions take place between the employee and their manager, to enable both parties to consider how and whether this may be accommodated. During this discussion, the employee should provide an indication of the likely duration of recovery, based upon advice from their medical practitioner.

The manager will ensure that any information disclosed, in relation to the employee’s elective procedure, is held in the strictest of confidence. The reason for the employee’s absence should only be disclosed where prior consent has been given by the individual.

If an employee, due to unforeseen complications, is unfit to return to work at the end of the agreed period of leave, any additional absence will be recorded as sickness absence and, where appropriate, must be covered by a medical certificate (Fit Note). In such cases, the usual sickness absence notification process will apply.

As a consequence of the personal nature of such situations, each case will be duly and sensitively considered based on the individual circumstances, and as such will not result in the setting of precedents for the consideration of subsequent matters either by the same individual or by others.

HR Department, May 2020