Sickness absence during holiday periods

The highly contentious argument of what to do with employees who become ill during periods of paid annual leave, has been subject to debate back and forth through various levels of courts for some time now.

However the latest European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on the 21st June 2012 that employees who become ill while on annual leave will be allowed to retake this time off at a later date.

The ECJ defined that the purpose of paid annual leave if to enable workers to rest and enjoy a period of relaxation and leisure, whilst sick leave entitlement enables a worker to recover from an illness that has caused him to be unfit for work.

The right to retake holiday if an employees is sick has been controversial since it was ruled in 2009 that employees are entitled to have their holidays back to take at a later time and even more shocking was the ruling that workers could carry leave forward even into the next year if it was through no fault of their own that they had been unable to take the holiday during the holiday year.

The latest and hot off the press ruling affirms that the rules that holiday entitlement must be reallocated to the employee and even if this mean carrying the entitlement forward.

A very small comfort is that fact that unless your workers are entitled to company sick pay, they would of course only receive statutory sick pay and would only get the full holiday pay once they actually take the leave. This may deter workers who are not genuinely ill and are trying to work the system to give them more time off. Employers can of course also demand evidence of a worker being unfit for work in the form a self-certification or a Fit Note.

For more information and advice, please contact your consultant on 01274 626200.