Am I allowed sick leave if I am having cosmetic surgery?

Cosmetic Surgery and sick leaveMost employees are entitled to some form of basic sick leave as part of their contract of employment, and this ranges from statutory sick pay (set by the government), up to a more generous period of paid sickness absence. If your employer offers supplementary paid sick leave, how much this is and how long you receive remuneration for this depends entirely on your employer and the specific terms of your employment contract.

Sick pay and sick leave were originally designed to cover any form of unexpected sickness or illness, but now what classes as ‘sickness’ is a bit more of a grey area. Where, for example, does time off to recover from cosmetic surgery fall in relation to the agreed definition of ‘sickness’?

UK legal firm Penningtons outlines something that many people are not aware of, that employers are not mandated to give time off to employers for medical appointments of any kind (with the exception of some relating to pregnancy). Time off for medical appointments is something that is entirely discretionary, and it would be within the rights of an employer to ask you to take these from your holiday allowance:

“There is no statutory right to time off to attend medical appointments, except for certain ante-natal ones. Unless there is a contractual right to such time off, leave to attend an appointment with a cosmetic surgeon is likely to be at the discretion of the employer .”

It all depends on the cover you are entitled to from your employer

According to the Personnel Today, if you have elected to have cosmetic surgery then the recovery from this type of operation is not classed as ‘sickness’ in the conventional sense. This means that a patient would not be entitled to statutory sick pay. They could, however, be entitled to enhanced sick pay / sick leave if this was covered by the contractual terms offered by their employer.

If you elect to have cosmetic surgery and suffer complications as a result of your tummy tuck or facelift that means that you are then unable to work (for example, if you succumb to an infection in a healing wound) then this could class as a traditional form of ‘sickness’, therefore normal sick leave/sick pay rules would apply.

Open the channels of communication

Although some people may feel shy or sensitive about talking to their employer about a planned cosmetic surgery procedure, it is likely to be better in the long run if you are open with your boss. It is not necessary to make the details of your operation known to everyone within your workplace, although it would be sensible to discuss your plans and the expected recovery patterns with your line manager and your employer/HR manager.