Holiday & Sickness Absence update

Employers are being forced to change the way they handle staff sickness and holiday allowances, following a recent ruling by the European Court of Justice.

The ruling gives workers, whose illness occurs at the same time as their holiday, the right to count those days as sick leave, rather than using part of their annual holiday entitlement.

The practical impact on employers means that is that any employee, who takes their leave then falls ill, will be allowed to treat that period as sickness absence and will be able to use the corresponding portion of their annual leave at a later date.

Given the potential for such a ruling to give rise to misunderstandings, it is important that employers put procedures in place to deal with the change in legislation. Employers should instigate a return to work interview and, subject to the terms in the contract of employment, pay Statutory Sick Pay for the period of the absence due to illness.

Furthermore, this controversial ruling permits employees to take the holiday in the following holiday year, potentially creating an inconsistency with the provisions of the Working Time Regulations. Such a dispute would then have to be resolved by an Employment Tribunal, should a subsequent challenge arise.

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