A surprising number of workers find it difficult to take time off from work to see their dentist.

We found that more than half of workers are not allowed to take paid time off to visit their dentist.

Millions of people took sick leave due to poor oral health in the past year. Around one in eight (13 percent) took unpaid time off to visit the dentist and almost three in ten (29 percent) went on vacation or visited the dentist on their own.

It is at the discretion of a company to give an employee time off to see the dentist, but unless the employment contract provides, this is not required by law.

It is therefore possible that an employer may ask its staff to attend a dentist’s appointment outside of working hours, to take annual leave or to make up for the time in some other way. Employers and employees should check the employment contract to see what rights employees have to take time off for dental visits.

For parents, the situation is even worse: only around one in four (23 percent) employees are allowed to take paid time off to go to the dentist with their children. Almost two-thirds (62 percent) of parents said they took either unpaid leave or vacation to go to the dentist with their children.

Here, too, it is at the discretion of the organization whether employees allow their children to be taken to check-ups during working hours. Since dental practices have their own opening times, it is possible to book appointments after the school and work day.

When a child or close family member has a dental emergency, a person is entitled to attend to the problem. This is known as “dependent leave” but is not paid unless the employment contract provides for it.

If a worker is disabled and their oral health is related to the disability, they should be eligible to have a dentist appointment. Click here to learn how Disability can affect a person’s oral health.

Employers should take time to discuss dental visits with employees by:

  • Communicating the value of dental visits and encouraging regular attendance.
  • Clear statement of workers’ rights and company policy regarding dentist visits.
  • Clarification that dental offices often admit patients after traditional work and school hours.
  • Be flexible and understand an employee’s needs if they cannot get an appointment outside of working hours.
  • Offer your employees a comfortable environment and a place of trust and come to them with concerns about their health.

A significant number of people unnecessarily miss their jobs each year because of their oral health.

It’s important for employers to understand that poor oral health is increasingly being linked to other more serious conditions like diabetes, stroke, and heart problems that make absenteeism even more difficult.

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