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I had a referral to the hospital for a specialist appointment, after being on a waiting list for some considerable time. The appointment was during the day, and so I took a day off work for it.

My contract states the company will give a reduced rate of pay for taking sick days.

However they said that a visit to an appointment is not a sick day.

It wasn't possible to schedule this visit out of working hours, or even at all due to the very long waiting list.

Are they correct, does attending this appointment not class as a sick day?

I have a doctor's note proving that I attended the hospital.

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    It depends on the classification of a sick day, which is the point of asking this whole question. If you want to be anal about it, technically you are sick if you are visiting a doctor to find a cure for something you have, and if it's a referral from another doctor it is part of ongoing treatment.
    – NibblyPig
    Jul 4, 2019 at 10:46
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    It says in my question. They said that a visit to an appointment is not a sick day. My question was to verify whether or not this was correct. They are not the friendliest of employers and are the type to argue any point to save themselves money.
    – NibblyPig
    Jul 4, 2019 at 10:53
  • @JoeStrazzere, it can happen that an employer's interpretation of a rule or law is intentionally wrong to mislead workers. Most of workers won't ask and dig so the misinterpretation becomes reality even if it was wrong from the beginning.
    – Bebs
    Jul 4, 2019 at 11:31
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    No an answer to your question exactly, but all the companies I have worked at have allowed me to make up the time taken to attend a Dr App rather than taking a half day. Maybe it's worth asking if you're able to do that?
    – Gamora
    Jul 4, 2019 at 12:39

3 Answers 3

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Yep they are well within their rights to not class that as a "sick" day - you aren't off work through being unfit that day but instead taking scheduled time off for a hospital appointment. So it would be covered under normal policies (and applicable laws) for annual leave rather than sickness - obviously your employment contract can offer more than the legal requirement here but not less.

Pregnancy-related appointments are excluded from this (in most cases, it doesn't apply to serving military and police personnel for example). But only where the appointment has been advised by a midwife, health visitor or doctor. This wouldn't be covered under "sick" though but rather what maternity arrangements are in play. They must allow you to go but pay is covered by statutory maternity pay laws (SMP) rather than sickness (SSP)

If the appointment relates to a disability (as covered by the Equality Act) then while not explicitly stated this would generally fall under the umbrella of making "reasonable accommodations" for the disability, but still this wouldn't be considered "sick".

An employer can choose to treat such days as sick if they wanted to - where doing so would provide the employee with more than complying with statutory sickness rules but this is entirely at their discretion and would normally be detailed in either employment contracts or policies.

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  • Thanks, if those are the rules those are the rules!
    – NibblyPig
    Jul 4, 2019 at 10:47
  • Even if the appointment is related to a disability that would be covered by the Equality Act, it's likely that a "reasonable accommodation" would only go as far as allowing the absence to be booked at a shorter notice than would normally be required, or allowing an additional unpaid day off outside the employees normal leave entitlement. Paying employees for time they're not at work wouldn't generally be considered a reasonable adjustment.
    – timbstoke
    Jul 4, 2019 at 11:36
  • This is consistent with my employer’s rules, in the Canadian public sector. Scheduled medical appointments don’t count as sick days.
    – CCTO
    Jul 6, 2019 at 4:05
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Since this is an agreement in excess of the Statutory Sick Pay (which kicks in after 3 waiting days), there is no further legal requirement on what's covered. If the company voluntarily chooses to pay for the statutory waiting days except on Mondays, that would be legal too.

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  • For sure, it comes down to what's in the contract. Just a clarification of what a 'sick day' is, and whether or not attending treatment is counted as a 'sick day'.
    – NibblyPig
    Jul 4, 2019 at 10:48
  • @SLC: the point MSalters is making is that it’s company specific, and possibly individual specific. If your contract says that you can take sick leave for a pedicure to deal with a hangnail, except on Monday, then on Tuesday it’s legitimate sick leave. There is legal, which is the Statutory Sick Pay, which they are required by law to provide, and then there is your contract and company policy. It is not unusual for appointments to be covered, it is not unusual for only full days to be covered, it is not unusual to only do what is required by law.
    – jmoreno
    Jul 4, 2019 at 15:10
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Are they correct, does attending this appointment not class as a sick day?

Yes, I'm afraid they're correct.

The only possible exceptions I'm aware of are if it's pregnancy related, or if its disability related. In those cases it's often far from black and white though, so even then there's not a great deal you can do unless you get a lawyer involved who can clarify 100%.

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