Introduction to this document

Letter rejecting time off for elective medical procedure

Use our letter to reject an employee’s request for time off to undergo an elective medical procedure, such as breast augmentation or liposuction. Unless you contractually provide for time off work in this scenario, you’re perfectly within your rights to do this. Our letter advises the employee to use their annual leave entitlement instead.

No statutory right

With more and more people opting for cosmetic surgery or non-surgical treatment to enhance some aspect of their appearance, it’s probably only a matter of time before one of your employees asks for time off work for their proposed cosmetic procedure and so we’ve tackled the issue head-on with our Letter Rejecting Time Off for Elective Medical Procedure. The starting point is that there’s no statutory right for employees to take time off work for medical or dental appointments, regardless of whether those are essential appointments or relate to elective or cosmetic treatment. The two exceptions are time off for pregnant women and their partners to attend antenatal appointments and where granting time off constitutes a reasonable adjustment for a disability. That said, most employers adopt a common-sense approach in their relevant policies and tend to allow time off for appointments with doctors, dentists, opticians, etc. - whilst still encouraging staff to make these outside normal working hours, or with minimum disruption to the working day, where possible.

Cosmetic treatment or surgery

Allowing time off for an employee to see their GP about an essential medical problem is one thing; allowing them time off for breast augmentation or a face lift is quite another. Where an employee is choosing to have some form of treatment or surgery purely to aesthetically enhance their appearance, you’re quite within your rights to turn down their request for time off work. You can extend this to other non-essential elective procedures, such as, say, laser eye surgery or a vasectomy. Our letter therefore declines the employee’s request for time off for cosmetic treatment or surgery and gives two possible grounds for rejection: (1) you don’t grant time off for treatment or surgery that’s not medically necessary, and/or (2) the employee wants more than two hours off work for one appointment, whereas your time limit is two hours. Our letter then continues by reminding the employee that they can still use their paid annual leave entitlement for the time off should they wish to do so, in which case they will need to comply with your relevant procedure for requesting annual leave.