Casual & Special Leave for Medical Appointments in BT

Over the past few weeks BT’s casual leave and special leave processes has come back under the spotlight, with some members not being granted special leave for hospital appointments in favour of casual leave.
    The process has just been reiterated in LTB 546/11 and is outlined as follows on BT’s intranet:

Can someone have time off for hospital/doctors appointments?

    All employees are expected, wherever possible, to make every effort to arrange appointments outside of work time. Failing this they can ask for casual leave, which may be granted bytheir line manager.
    Casual leave can be up to 4 hours or half a day’s paid leave to attend a one off appointment or deal with an emergency that does not fit within the special leave definition. The individual will normally be required to make up the time taken within a reasonable timeframe that should be agreed with their line manager, except in cases of distress. 
Hospital appointments beyond the initial appointment can be scheduled and this should be done in a way that minimises disruption to the business. Nonetheless 
the company recognises that depending on working patterns this may mean that hospital appointments will be during work time. In these instances, paid special leave should be considered and not be unreasonably refused. The Company, however, accepts that initial hospital appointments whether it be consultation or medical tests are not always within the control of the individual and in these instances paid special leave should be granted.

Special leave procedure
Time off — Time off for medical purposes
All employees are expected, wherever possible, to make every effort to arrange appointments outside of work time. Medical appointments, including GP and dental appointments, should, where possible, be arranged outside of working hours or during leave, scheduled time off or an attendance swap. In circumstances where this is not possible, maximum notice should be given of the need to take time off from work, for which casual leave may be requested. Where casual leave has been granted, the individual will normally be required to make up the time taken (except in cases of distress) within a reasonable time frame that should be agreed with 
their line manager.
Hospital appointments beyond the initial appointment can be scheduled and this should be done in a way that minimises disruption to the business. Nonetheless the company recognises that depending on working patterns, this may mean that hospital appointments will be during work time. In these instances, paid special leave should be considered and not be unreasonably refused. The company, however, accepts that initial hospital appointments whether it be for consultation or medical tests are not always within the control of the individual and paid special leave should be granted.
Where regular medical appointments are necessary in respect of a disability, this should be managed under the principles of “Managing Changing Capabilities”. The manager, taking advice where necessary from the OHS,should consider the need to make reasonable adjustments to the individual’s attendance arrangements.  This adjustment can be supported by one or more of the following options: paid special leave; casual leave; use of annual leave; temporary reduction in hours, flexible attendance according to the individual circumstances of the application.

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