Time off Work for the Dentist – Rights to Attend Dental Appointments

If you are suffering from the misery of toothache, or need a dental procedure such as a filling done, you might be struggling to get an out of work hours appointment.  Unfortunately, there’s no statutory right to time off work for the dentist.

This might be surprising considering how debilitating dental pain can be, but there are no rights to attend dental appointments in UK employment law.

How to Get Time Off Work for the Dentist

Although your employer isn’t obligated to give you time off work for the dentist, they will hopefully be understanding.   

Particularly if you are suffering from dental pain such as toothache, and need an emergency appointment.

Check Your Employment Contract

Your first stop should be to check your employment contract, and employee handbook.

You may find that your workplace has policies in place which mean you have the right to attend dental appointments during work hours.

If there is a policy, it should detail how the time off is treated. i.e. is it paid, unpaid, or are you expected to make up the hours at another time.

If your workplace doesn’t have a policy, you may have to negotiate with your manager. Asking for time off to go to the dentist is a perfectly reasonable request. Hopefully your manager will be flexible.

Asking For Time Off for a Dental Appointment

Here are some suggestions to negotiate with your employer to get that time to attend a dental appointment:-

  • Ask for an extended lunch hour so you can attend your appointment.  Offer to make up any extra time by staying on late, or arriving the next day. Dentists sometimes run late, which can make it difficult to know how long you need to take off. If you try to arrange a dental appointment as late in the day as possible, this might minimise the time off work you need.
  • If you are having a fairly major dental procedure done, you might consider taking a day or half day of holiday to allow you some recovery time.

Dental Emergencies

If you need emergency dental treatment for a painful toothache or abscess you can use sick leave to seek treatment.

The rules for unplanned dental emergencies are different to those that would allow you to attend a routine appointment. You can call in sick, and self certify your absence for the first 7 days.

Depending on your workplace policy on sick leave, this may end up being unpaid. Check your work contract to see what it says.

If your employer only offers Statutory Sick Pay, you are not entitled to any pay until you’ve been sick 4 days in a row.

Time Off For Toothache

Toothache can be debilitating and leave you unable to work. If you need to take time off work for toothache, you can self certify for up to 7 days.

As above, check your workplace policies and procedures on taking time off sick and ensure you follow them.

Can My Employer Ask For Proof of My Dental Appointment?

Your employer may ask for proof of your dental appointment if you have taken time off work.

This is a reasonable request. A copy of your appointment confirmation should be enough if HR requests this.

If there’s any medical information relating to your appointment that you’d rather keep confidential, it is not unreasonable for you to redact it when providing proof.


Can my employer refuse time off for the dentist

Unfortunately your employer can refuse you time off to go to the dentist. Hopefully most employers would be flexible, and allow you to attend appointments. However, there’s no statutory obligation for them to do so.

Can I request time off work for a dental appointment

For the most part, dentists are only open during office hours. This means it’s reasonable for you to request time off work for a dental appointment.

Further Reading

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