Sickness and Annual Leave

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There is an increasingly long line of cases addressing the issue of sickness and holiday absence.  The most recent case questions whether a worker who falls sick during annual leave can take their annual leave at a later date? (You may recall the Pereda case not so long ago on a similar point).

In the Spanish case of ANGED v FASGA the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has said ‘yes’.  Regardless of when the period of sickness began, annual leave can be taken at a later date.  In effect a worker who is sick during paid annual leave can interrupt that period of annual leave, take sick leave and then the remaining holiday at a later date.

The ECJ reiterated that the right to paid annual leave is an important principle of EU social law from which there can be no derogation.  It stresses that the purpose of paid annual leave is to enable workers to rest and enjoy a period of relaxation and leisure, whereas the purpose of sick leave is to enable a worker to recover from an illness that has caused him to be unfit for work.

We can envisage many ways how this finding could be abused (food poisoning in Turkey?!) so employers will need to ensure their procedures are, as best possible, able to deal with this kind of absence.  For example, you may need to ask employees to provide evidence of sickness before any decision to defer holiday is granted.

For more information, help or advice please contact Tim Davies on 0191 211 7927 or email [email protected].