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Jolene's getting her boobs done and wants sick leave! Do you grant it?

by , 27 March 2015
These days, cosmetic surgery is pretty commonplace. Just look around the office, the number of people who've chosen to have an elective procedure will surprise you.

But what do you do when you're sales manager, Jolene, comes up to you with a sick leave request for the days she'll be off having and recovering from her boob job.

Is this something you need to grant as sick leave or does it fall under annual leave instead?

Here's what labour law says...


The law is pretty clear cut when it comes to elective surgery and sick leave

Labour law draws a definite distinction between 'sickness', 'injury' and a medical procedure you choose to do yourself that isn't medically necessary. 
And that's why, in terms of Section 23 of the BCEA, your employee's boob job (which falls under the definition of cosmetic surgery) does not qualify as sick leave. In the same vein, neither do sick leave requests for things like artificial insemination.
But, if Jane was asking for sick leave because she's elected to go for a back op for medical reasons (i.e. chronic back ache) then sick leave would apply. In this case, however, she must get a note from her surgeon stating that the operation is medically necessary. 
Still unsure?
Remember these points: 
  1. If an employee has asked permission for taking time off before undergoing the surgery, it's fair to assume the surgery was voluntary. In this case, unless it's necessary medically, you don't have to pay sick leave
  2. The exception here would be if there are unforeseen circumstances (generally health complications because of the surgery).
So if Jane requests sick leave for the day of the op plus follow up days for recovery from her boob job, inform her that she'll need to take annual leave if she wants the time off to be paid. (Note this only applies if she still has annual leave days available under the current leave cycle.)
We hope this has cleared up your confusion. But if you have other questions regarding sick leave check out our Complete Guide to Managing Sick Leave electronic report. This easy-to-follow, practical report will help with every sick leave issue you come up against. 
Plus, you'll receive sample sick leave policy template, sick leave forms, return to work interview template and so much more. 

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