Q.After returning to work after a major injury at work, does my employer have to pay me when I attend physiotherapy twice a week or can they deduct my wages?
(G.C, 11 February 2019)
The first point to make is that you have no legal right to attend your physiotherapy appointments and receive your pay. This applies even though the accident that led to your injury occurred at work.
Your employer could therefore deduct from your wages the time you spend not working. Alternatively, your employer could ask you to make up the time.
In reality, your employer may not take either course of action. He or she may feel a certain responsibility towards you, particularly as the injury occurred at work.
This, however, is at the discretion of the employer.
Sickness Absence Policy
There may be a reference to such discretion in your employer’s Sickness Absence policy. Ask your employer whether there is such a policy; if so, read it as soon as possible.
A typical sickness absence policy will say that employees can take medical appointments if the manager agrees. This gives an employer the chance to ensure an employee isn’t taking advantage of paid time off.
Communicate About Your Physiotherapy Appointments
Whether your employer has a sickness absence policy or not, consider taking the following action. It will increase your chances of receiving paid time off.
Show your employer a letter from your GP or the hospital that confirms your need for physiotherapy. Also show any record card or letter that has the times and dates of your appointments. Ensure your employer takes a copy of these documents.
Arrange your medical appointments at the beginning or end of the day. Ideally, if you work close at hand to the physiotherapy clinic, make lunchtime appointments.
You wont always get the appointment times that you want. Nonetheless, you can tell your employer what youre attempting to do so. Hopefully, he or she will appreciate that you’re trying to reduce the time you spend away from work.
Finally, arrange to keep your employer informed of the progress with your physiotherapy. Once again, by involving your employer, you show your commitment to work.
Disability Discrimination Act
Please note that if you’re disabled, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 applies.
The Act doesnt give you a legal right to take time off to attend medical appointments; however, it does oblige an employer to ensure your Disability doesn’t put you at a disadvantage.
A lot depends on your circumstances, but you may be able to argue that you need paid time off to attend medical appointments because they relate to your disability.