European Court of Justice

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that employees who become ill whilst taking annual leave may reclaim that time back. The ECJ said that sick leave and leave for holiday served two very different purposes therefore the judgement makes logical sense.

The ECJ said that the point at which the illness started is irrelevant. They had previously said that if an individual falls ill before taking their holiday leave then they will be entitled to take that leave again at another time. They argued that "it would be arbitrary and contrary to the purpose of entitlement to paid annual leave to grant workers the right to paid leave only if they are already unfit for work when the period of paid annual leave commences."

Employment advisors have said that the judgment merely confirms the same principles as when an employee becomes ill before they are to take their holiday leave. In this respect it is not such a departure from practices as they were for employers. It does however mean that employers should be even more keen to ensure that they have effective sickness policies in place. The judgment could see some employees trying to gain extra holiday by arguing that they were ill during their last holiday entitlement.

Employers should ensure that all employees are well aware of their sickness policy. This should cover when to report that they are ill and when and how they need to contact them to say that they are fit to return to work. The policy should be clear on when a sick note will be needed and whether or not the employee will be called to a return to work meeting. Sometime employees can find these meetings to be quite intrusive and it can appear that management are asking a lot of questions to the point of them looking like they don't believe you were ill at all. In order to tackle any unnecessary difficulties it is essential to adapt a consistent approach to sickness and indeed holiday. Check out our polices and documents section or use the ticket system if you require any further guidance on these issues.

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