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Are employees entitled to sick pay for elective and cosmetic surgery?

First of all, before we start, it’d be useful to define what elective and cosmetic surgery actually are.

The two are often confused. Cosmetic surgery (commonly known as boob jobs, nose jobs, Botox etc.) is intended to improve a person’s appearance rather than their health. Elective surgery applies to any surgery that is scheduled in advance, doesn’t involve a medical emergency and does not have to be performed within 24 hours.

Naturally, your first concern will be for your employee. Potential absence and performance concerns shouldn’t be too far behind – especially for a smaller business that is less able to pass the workload on to others.

Losing key employees for long periods can keep small business owners up at night with endless questions buzzing through their heads. However, the big questions are, ‘What do you pay them? Do you ride it out? How do you approach it with the rest of your team?’

Statutory sick pay and elective and cosmetic surgery

All employees are entitled to Social Welfare support when they are unfit to work – as long as they follow the proper procedures and provide the appropriate certification you are required to support your employees by completing social welfare forms accurately and in a timely manner. The first 5 days of any period of absence is not covered.

Contractual sick pay and elective and cosmetic surgery

Contractual Sick Pay is in your control. Here, you go on your contracts or policy documentation – so make sure it truly reflects the needs of your business.

You are not required to pay any contractual sick pay, but if you do, you should be very clear on what is paid under what circumstances.  Be aware, if you implement sick pay in any given situation, employees talk and other employees will expect the same treatment.  Beware of setting precedent as is twill only cause bad feelings if you do not treat everyone the same.

How to keep your team in the know

You will, of course, need to keep your team in the know. Strict confidentiality must be adhered to here. You can’t disclose information about any medical procedure without the employee’s consent. If you do have their consent, inform their team if you think it’s appropriate. If it’s explained to the team, they will understand why they’re having to pick-up extra work.

There are some situations that have to be discussed and planned in advance e.g. an individual going through a sex change process – this can take up to three years to complete. A lot of planning and thought must go into this and you will need professional guidance to avoid pitfalls and discrimination claims.

So, to summarise, making necessary changes to your policies will ensure you are protected. Be consistent in your approach and, if you’re ever unsure, always seek professional advice.