Should an employee get sick leave for elective or cosmetic surgery?

When it comes to paying sick pay to employees choosing to have surgery, common initial reactions may be reluctance to pay sick pay and tell employees that they must use annual or unpaid leave. However cosmetic or elective surgery is not always for aesthetic reasons, for example, individuals who have been suffering with depression due to physical issues or who may require cosmetic surgery following a serious road traffic accident or breast cancer operation will feel that although the surgery is cosmetic or elective it is as necessary as non-elective surgery.

There is no statutory right to time off for a person who elects to have surgery, however they are more than likely to be unfit for work for a period of time following the surgery When it comes to paying statutory sick pay (SSP) it is irrelevant that the employee’s ill health may have been self-induced. Employees are entitled to SSP providing they are incapable of doing work that they would reasonably be expected to do under their contract of employment and have complied with the statutory SSP requirements. If they are unfit to work, and have provided the correct notice, SSP should be paid. This is the case whatever the surgery was for, or whatever the motivation was for having it done.

The employee may or may not be entitled to contractual sick pay. Generally, the right to contractual sick pay will be in the employee’s contract of employment, or within the sickness absence policy. Whether or not contractual sick pay is paid over and above SSP will depend on the sick pay scheme. The business may need to take a decision using discretion based on each employee’s request. It is very important to ensure when using discretion that you apply a consistent approach and record the outcomes to ensure all requests are dealt with in the same manner. Contractual Sick Pay is in your control, so make sure it truly reflects the needs of your business.

Both cosmetic and elective surgery have risen in popularity, and likely will continue to do so.

Contact us at we will be happy to discuss any absence issues you may be having in the workplace.

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