1. Can an employee be forced to take sick leave?
You have a duty of care to all your employees, so you would be justified in requiring an employee to go home if they’re clearly unwell and this is posing a risk to their own safety or that of their colleagues.
The important consideration is whether such action is justified and reasonable. If they’re operating dangerous machinery and appear drowsy, for example, it would be reasonable to send them home. Similarly, if they work in an open-plan or public-facing environment and are coughing and sneezing, they could be endangering the health of other employees or members of the public. All of these would be reasonable justifications to enforce sick leave.
2. Should employees clock-out when visiting the GP?
You’re legally entitled to require employees to clock-out for medical appointments. You can require that this time is taken as either paid or unpaid leave, or that the employee works the missed hours at another time.
Most employers don’t offer additional paid leave for doctors’ appointments (but you can offer this as a perk if you like). If you’ve already put specific arrangements for doctors’ appointments in your employment terms or staff handbook, you must honour these arrangements and treat everyone fairly. You may also have to offer additional flexibility to an employee who needs to make regular medical appointments due to their disability. In these cases, make sure you’re not guilty of discrimination against disabled employees.