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Visits to the doctor or dentist

Can anyone share details of their company policy relating to doctor and dentist appointments during work-time? It is becoming apparent that some managers make employees make up the time, whereas others do not. Advice on what is considered ‘reasonable’ would be appreciated.

Answer 1: We use a flexi-time system at work. Staff are expected to make doctors appointments at the start or end of the day and use their flexi-time to cover this. For hospital appointments, staff have to show their appointment card to their manager, but do not have to take flexi-time – they can take the time as special leave.

Answer 2: Most of our people work flexi-time and everyone is expected to make up any time spent at the doctor or dentist. However, if somebody has to spend a half day or a whole day at a hospital appointment, there is discretion for them to take that time as a sick day.

Answer 3: We allow paid time off up to a maximum of one hour per doctor/dentist visit. We operate a flexi-system where staff must clock in/out. After such appointments, up to one hour is credited to their flexi-clock. Hospital appointments are credited with the full amount of time spent away from the office (with no maximum limit).

We stipulate that staff must try, whenever possible, to make appointments outside working hours, or at times when they will cause the least disruption (ie, early morning or late afternoon). We reserve the right to make suitable enquiries to confirm that such visits have taken place. I have been told by colleagues who work elsewhere that our policy errs on the side of being overly generous.

Varying shift hours

I have been asked to look at an issue where a production site has huge demand in the winter but less in the summer. Due to skills requirements, the production site wants to keep key staff as permanent employees. They currently work shifts from Sunday evening at 10pm until Friday evening at 10pm. How could the shifts/contracts be varied to have the winter demands met rather than paying overtime?

Answer 1: Annual hours seems the obvious choice. In basic terms, annual hours is a contract to work a set number of hours over a 12-month period rather than a specified number of hours per week. Inefficient overtime and rigid working practices are replaced by a new deal: fewer hours, security of a reasonable income and better work-life balance, in return for flexibility and improved performance.

Answer 2: You could implement an annual hours contract – reasonably common for this type of thing – which concentrates working hours in the parts of the year when you need them. You will have to change the contracts of employment of course, which can be a nightmare process
in itself.

Have you thought about asking the employees what their solution to the problem might be?

Other possibilities include restricting holidays during the busy time of the year – but this will probably need a contractual variation. You could also take on new employees on annual hours contracts and leave the existing ones on current arrangements.

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