The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has confirmed that an employee who is unable to take annual leave because of sickness can carry over the entitlement to a later date.
The case involved a teacher in Poland who was convalescing from an illness and unable to take her annual leave. When she later came to claim it, her school said that it had been used up during her sick leave.
The issue was referred to the ECJ, which ruled in favour of the teacher. It held that four weeks’ annual leave was a fundamental right under EU law and a worker continues to accrue holiday entitlement while on sick leave.
The court differentiated between annual holiday entitlement as being for rest and relaxation, while sick leave was strictly for recovery from illness. The distinction should not be blurred, and if annual leave coincides with a period when an employee is off ill, then it should be rescheduled.
It made no difference whether or not the holiday period had already been scheduled prior to illness.
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