New ECJ ruling brings changes to sickness and holiday entitlement

21 April 2013

The Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) has ruled that if workers fall sick during the time they are taking their statutory annual leave they may take extra leave at a later date for the period they were sick whilst on leave. The period of absence when sick would then revert to sick leave and the employer's usual sickness rules would apply.

The UK does not have the right to opt out of this area of law and the statutory right to paid leave exists even if that leave coincides with a period of sick leave. The Court found that it is irrelevant at which point the worker becomes unfit for work.  This means that workers who become sick when on annual leave have the right to take that same period which would have been taken but for the sickness at a later date.  The ECJ has also ruled that where a worker falls sick just before a period of planned leave that worker has the right to have their leave re-scheduled.

At a time when employer's are faced with lots of difficulties to survive the global economic downturn the ECJ's ruling will come as a major disappointment.

Employer's should have clear policies on sick leave to ensure that workers properly report any period of sickness absence to avoid confusion over their entitlements.

If you need further advice on this issue please contact Alexandra Dean on 01245 228141 or email at

The above is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues./p>