Can my employers force me to delay surgery?
About 5 months back I had a very nasty accident which has left me unable to use my arm properly. I've been due for a second round of corrective surgery and have been open about what was planned on happening.
The time is right now physically for me to have this surgery, and I've finally been put on the waiting list.
My manager is now trying to force me to delay the operation until a time that is more convenient for work. Is she allowed to do this? Is this a reasonable request from an employer?
The short answer is, yes, they can ask.
There is no real legal position for this situation, so it just comes down to discussions between you and your employer. If it is not emergency surgery then the situation is really no different from booking a holiday. Obviously there are lines to be drawn here - it would be unreasonable (though possibly not illegal) for the employer to give a blanket refusal until further notice, but equally, if their busiest fotnight of the year is approaching it would not be unreasonable to ask you to be available to work at that time.
All you can really do is argue that you need the surgery as soon as possible to improve your quality of life (presumably!), and come to an agreement about when they would be happy for you to take the time off.
There's not a lot of point in going to war about this, but ultimately they might request that you take the time off on a date more convenient to them and you might refuse to, on the grounds that it's a genuine medical condition and for the sake of your own health you need to get this fixed at the opportune time. In effect, they are denying you the right to take sick leave, which is at least arguably breach of contract.
If there was say independent medical evidence that it wouldn't matter at all if the surgery got delayed and any different / later date was perfectly feasible to have it, then I think this might be a reasonable request on the employer's part.
But if your medical advisers recommend that it's done at a particular time then it enters the area of legitimate sickness absence.
You therefore might need to seek some appropriate evidence from your GP / consultant.
Thanks for the responses.
The irony is that this is a quiet period for our work, delaying it would put it smack into a far busier period for us!