Sick told to get packing (their suitcases)

Workers on long-term sick leave are entitled to paid holidays, according to a ruling by the ECJ.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

The new ruling says all workers are within their rights to claim up to four weeks of paid holiday for each year they are on sick leave. Time owed that isn't used that year will be carried over to the next. And that anyone who quits or loses their job while on sick leave can get a lump sum payment in lieu of holidays accrued while they were sick, on top of any redundancy or termination payment.  

In other words, just because you've been holed up at home ill for a while, doesn't mean you shouldn't be entitled to a break when you finally get back to the office. Indeed, the first thing anyone should want after an extended break is a bit of a break. Apparently. Or at least a bit of cash to make up for the time you should have had.

The question is where that leaves those employees who aren't ill. The vast majority have holiday entitlement under a 'use it or lose it' system, with no opportunity to carry days forward if they're not taken. If they end up unable to take their holiday, because they were working too hard, only to see those days lost for good, that seems a touch unfair compared to those carrying days forward because they were absent.

The ruling has cleared up what has long been a source of dispute, and while some employees may see reason for celebration, many employers may well be pig sick. The CBI are among those who have criticised the decision, taking the view that, at a time when they'll be up against it financially anyway, the idea of having to put up with a few weeks more without staff - and paying for it - will provide an unnecessary extra burden.

Indeed, somebody who was away from work for two years could technically then be entitled to at least 40 days of leave, plus public holidays.

The ruling came after a request by the House of Lords, which sought to clear up confusion that arose following complaints from HM Revenue and Customs staff four years ago, over lost holiday entitlement. The Court of Appeal decreed then that they couldn't claim time off or holiday pay in that way, but that decision will now be reversed.


In today's bulletin:

Nationalisation calls mount as banks hammered again
Unemployment nears 2m - and graduates feel the squeeze
Ofcom backs Channel 4/ BBC Worldwide merger
Sick told to get packing (their suitcases)
Fiat to rescue Chrysler - or is it the other way round?

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