Sick and disability leave
Every employee in the UK should be aware of their employer’s absence policy, which will usually include guidance around several related issues such as their stance on sick leave and pay, how to report absences and how the employer records them.
Additionally, these policies may include information regarding disability related absences and may even refer to what is commonly known as disability leave. Whilst disability leave is not a legal requirement, it is suggested as best practice and is used as just one example of a reasonable adjustment within the Equality Act 2010 Employment Statutory Code of Practice.
Disability leave is where absences as a direct result of an employee’s disability are treated differently from general sickness related absences. For example, with disability leave, you would receive full pay while absent from work, whereas the employer’s general sick leave policy may only offer Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).
Disability leave is different to general sick leave as it refers solely to absences which are directly due to an employee’s disability. For example, a person affected by MS may be experiencing a relapse or side effects from a particular MS-focused treatment. Both scenarios should be classed and recorded as disability leave as opposed to general sick leave if the employer recognises this distinction.
Absence and medical appointments
Legally, employers do not have to grant employees time off work for medical appointments, however, it is recommended as best practice by many unions around the UK. Check your employer’s absence policy to determine if they allow leave for medical appointments. Some may allow it and offer full pay, whilst others may ask that you take the time off as part of your annual leave allocation or make the time up at a later date.
If your employer flatly refuses to allow you medical appointment leave this will mean that you will have to arrange for the appointment to take place outside of working hours. However, if the appointment is directly related to your disability there could be an argument for discrimination if leave is not allowed and it is not possible to have an appointment outside of your working hours. For example, paid time off work can be deemed a reasonable adjustment which helps to prevent someone affected by a disability from being disadvantaged.