Home - Can an employee take personal leave for pre-arranged appointments?
January 31, 2022 on chapter Personal/carer’s leave

Can an employee use personal leave to attend an appointment for an elective surgery, preorganised visit to a specialist or allied health visit (e.g. physiotherapy) if a medical practitioner has recommended the treatment?

Under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), an employee is entitled to take personal leave if they are unfit for work because of their own personal illness or injury.

Therefore, medical appointments and elective surgeries that are pre-arranged can only be covered by personal leave if an employee is not able to work because of a personal illness or injury. With reference to the specific scenarios you have outlined, whether personal leave would apply will depend on each individual circumstance. Generally speaking, an employee:

  • would be able to use personal leave for an elective surgery since the illness or injury associated with the post-operative recovery would likely render the employee unfit for work;
  • would not be able to use personal leave for a pre-organised visit to a specialist; and
  • would not be able to use personal leave for appointments with allied health providers such as physiotherapists.

In simple terms, pre-organised medical appointments would not, in and of themselves, be covered by personal leave – and this is not overridden by a recommendation from a medical practitioner.

However, there may be circumstances in which these appointments are attended in the context of the employee being unfit for work and/or an assessment by a medical practitioner that the employee is as such. Where such circumstances exist, personal leave may be appropriate. Again, whether personal leave is appropriate will depend on each individual circumstance, with the employee’s fitness for work being the determining factor.

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