Neil Andrews - Partner, Coles Miller


by on 19th Apr 2012


Neil AndrewsThe European Court of Justice has recently ruled that employees on long term sick leave will continue to accrue holiday. It had previously been the case that employees who were absent for significant periods of time would be unable to accrue holiday in the normal way

The House of Lords had previously ruled that employees who were on long term sick leave could not continue to accrue holiday in the normal way as if they had been present at work. The reasoning that they gave was essentially that in order to accrue holiday you need to be at work, as holiday is time away from work! If an employee was long term sick he or she was already away from work!

The English Courts must now come into line with the European Court of Justice ruling.

The ruling is significant for employers in two ways:

Firstly, it means that employees who are on long term sick leave, and are subsequently dismissed, will be entitled to be paid in lieu of that holiday.

Secondly it is also the case that employees who return from long term sick leave will have quite possibly accrued a substantial amount of holiday during that time.

If on long term sick leave, workers will accrue a maximum of twenty days' annual leave according to European Law. This is in fact less than twenty-four days, which is currently required by English law. Whether or not the amount accrued will be increased to reflect the current position in English law remains to be seen.

Many organisations and companies will now need to carry out a review of their Employment Contracts and sickness policies, in order to ensure that they are compliant with the new legal position.

As always please feel free to contact Neil Andrews for further information or with any employment queries on 01202 673011.