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Employees who fall ill on holiday entitled to extra time off, says EU court

 

Employees who fall ill when on annual leave are entitled to reclaim the corresponding paid leave at a later point, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled.

 

The judgement, which is legally binding throughout the EU, goes further than earlier rulings made by the ECJ.

 

The top court previously stated that workers who became ill before the start of their paid annual leave had the right to take that leave at another time.

 

However in its latest judgement, the ECJ claims that the point at which the illness arose is ‘irrelevant.’

 

‘The purpose of entitlement to paid annual leave is to enable the worker to rest and enjoy a period of relaxation and leisure,’ the Court said. ‘The purpose of entitlement to sick leave is different, since it enables a worker to recover from an illness that has caused them to be unfit for work.’

 

Commenting on the ruling, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said that ‘as a result of earlier ECJ judgments, this change has already happened in the UK, bringing along headaches for employers.’

 

Guy Bailey, CBI Head of Employment and Employee Relations, added: ‘With the rules currently under discussion again in Brussels, the CBI would like to see the judgments reversed, so that the directive is focused on the health and safety of the workforce, as originally intended.’

 

Meanwhile, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has called on the Government to ‘avoid implementation of any ECJ ruling on annual leave and sick leave for as long as possible’.