back to article ECJ: Sick workers earn holiday entitlement

Workers will be able to build up holiday entitlements even when absent on sick leave and will be able to carry over untaken leave until subsequent years, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has said. The ruling will force a change in UK law. The ECJ was asked by the House of Lords to rule on whether holiday entitlement could …


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  1. Hollerith

    To be exploited by the dodgers and layabouts

    I know of a handful of colleagues and ex-colleagues who were or are off work through genuine and often tragic illnesses. The rest of those on long-term sickness, far outnumbering them, are the malingerers, work-shy types, those taking the piss, and so on. These people have become pastmasters at playing the rules: finding a gullible or complacent doctor, coming back just before deadlines run out, manipulating foolish HR people, in short, playing the system for all it's worth. This ruling is going to have them thanking the dierty of their choice on their knees every night.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    HR department headaches

    well a taste of their own medicine would be nice.

  3. Lionel Baden

    at last

    Being able to keep holiday beyond the year !!! I dont like that i was always forced to go on holiday or lose it !

    I think a comprimise should be done for people off sick tbh. Its not like they're actually earning the company any money.

  4. Steve
    Thumb Down

    Careful wording

    Interesting wording in that judgement, which leaves lots of open issues.

    It says that a worker who wasn't able to take leave because he was sick can either carry it over, or be paid for it if he leaves the company. There's no clear definition of "wasn't able", though. What about someone who has chosen to take no leave during the year, then ends up sick for the last two months? Was the illness the reason they couldn't take the leave? They had 10 months of opportunity which they didn't use, so can it be assumed that it is only 1/6 (i.e. 2/12 of a year) worth of leave which was potentially lost?

    It's also not clear on earning leave. Everyone's entitled to 4 weeks paid leave, yet under French law, for example, you need to earn your entitlement. Anyone starting a new job in France has no guarantee of leave, and if you start half-way through the year you only earn half a year's entitlement for the following year.

    Most EU directives are carefully ambiguous, so that they can be interpreted according to each member state's needs and not rejected outright. That's exactly what leads to these weasel-worded judgements that don't clarify anything. It'll just make employment lawyers even richer.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    I think this ruling is wrong

    If an employee is off for a day or two that should have no effect on their holidays. But when on long term sick? Sorry, they should lose those rights (pro-rata) because they are NOT working! All that should be required is for the company to have a policy in place stating when they consider a health-related leave of absence to change from "one of them things" to "long term". I'd say the trigger would be any sick leave which accrues to more than 14 days off a year. So if you are off on longer term sick for 6 months, you only get 50% of your annual leave. Simple and fair.

    The employer has to hire someone else to do cover the sick employee's job (or pay overtime, or work remaining staff harder) AND now pay sick employee for their holidays or let them take those. If the employee has been off to a long time, this could make it near impossible (or very expensive) to integrate the worker back in. Why should the employer foot this bill? Is this not why we have insurance etc? There may be a case where the work is what has made the employee sick (but H&S legislation should cover that).

    This will be open-season for the work-to-rule-shirkers that infest the UK workforce (although I guess most of them are living it up on our overly-generous benefits system). Although it does not surprise me that this was brought by civil servants, another bunch of parasites. UK workers need a SERIOUS attitude adjustment.

    Oh, and cue some companies brining in medicals to try and screen out "unhealthy" potential employees.

  6. J. Bas

    How about to calling it a progress instead?

    I would call it a progress instead of worrying about some overhead.

    It is common practice already for years in Latvia and without much differences also in Estonia and Lithuania, plus I would bet that in other mainland countries it is so as well. This does not create so much losses as some predict, actual impact is for sure exaggerated during studies where they calculated losses. At least gains from employees feeling safer and more motivated most certainly was not taken into account.

    If we here in Latvia are able to survive such overhead, UK has nothing to worry about.

  7. J. Bas

    Should not it be considered as progress for UK instead?

    I would call it a progress instead of worrying about some overhead.

    It is common practice already for years in Latvia and without much differences also in Estonia and Lithuania, plus I would bet in other mainland countries as well. This does not create so much losses as some predict, actual impact is for sure exaggerated during studies where they calculated losses. As at least gains from employees feeling safer and more motivated most certainly was not taken into account.

    If we here in Latvia are able to survive such overhead, UK has nothing to worry about.

  8. Joe K


    What about temps/contractors?

    Cos if this doesn't apply then its one more death knell for the perm job, which were hard enough to come by even before the Meltdown and this.

  9. Andus McCoatover

    Here in Finland - More European than "the heart of Europe - puke"

    We can do this. Possible for years.

    If you take holiday, and fall sick in^H^H during it, as long as you've a doctors note (or a valid AA card - we're not talking 'bout a motoring org. here...;-) you can extend the holiday by at least some of the days you were sick.

    It's here ( somewhere, but I can't be arsed to wade through so many documents. Those who like to play with plastic dolls, and have time on their hands (not talking about a watch, 'natch) might have a 'flick-through'. (Sorry Lester, couldn't resist).

    So, as John Major famously hoped that Britain would be the "Heart of Europe", then rejected most Euro stuff, I'm fuc*king glad Europe had a tremendously successful bypass operation.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    At last, something for people rather than "business"

    It makes a refreshing change that the ECJ has made a ruling that gives penny-pinching "HR" people a good kicking.

    I for one am sick to death of "business" this and "business" that and legislation constantly being made or ignored (eg working time directive), all to suit "business". The fact that the CBI are squirming is a good sign.

    Having witnessed the growth of "HR", ie treating people as pawns who only exist to be exploited and who should be dumped at the earliest opportunity if they get sick, and whose access to health care should be restricted by preventing people attending appointments etc, they deserve a VERY hard kicking. Back when they were called Personnel departments they at least had the name to remind them they are dealing with PEOPLE, not "resources".

    Anon because we have "HR" here and senior management who have been engaged in a continuous attack on the staff for the last two years. Thank $deity for unions.

  11. Francis Fish

    It'll just mean they get made redundant more quickly

    Instead of having a job to go back to?? That's what happened when I worked at one company. You make the job redundant not the person, but HR depts are very good at that kind of thing.

    It may get some people a bit more dosh in the short term - long term I think it'll probably mean things actually get worse.

    The only good news is the carrying over holidays (or payment!!! hopefully).

  12. Graham Marsden

    Dear Boss...

    ... since I've been off sick but still accruing holiday entitlement and didn't get to take all my holidays last year, I'm just writing to let you know that I'm taking a break and I'll see you again in June.

    Yours sincerely...

    PS Mines the one with the "how to play the system" notes in the pocket.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    One more reason

    Why my wife and I are glad we got rid of all our staff and just work as self employed consultants. Businesses should not be the welfare state and all this judgement does is make it less attractive to employ people. So thats a few less jobs created....

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A start...

    Now how about them sorting out the ludicrous situation where a doctor certifies you as unfit to work and yet any "certificated" time off exposes the employee to action for absence?

    I know of a recent instance of a call centre worker who had a sanction applied to him when he had 3 weeks off with a severe tonsilitis - which incidentally the NHS has been avoiding treating in the hope that it would just go away in adulthood. A call centre worked who cant speak really has to be seen as unfit surely?

    We might have a healthier workforce if we didnt drag sick people to work when they are sick, once again, like the long hours culture, British business is extremely short sighted.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @AC Business Twits

    Very glad I dont work with either of you, you both sound like tossco and their half mind "managers" who couldnt manage a chocolate orange, and use excuse after ridiculous excuse to justify BS "well you have to multiply this out by X stores and Y xxx, so we couldnt do that" <-used whenever they get a suggestion they wish they had thought of. Bring on the depression, perhaps some more "consultants" and "business tycoons" will lose their shirts, too much to hope for sadly.

    Once again the CBI will pull some strings with pastor brown and poshie cameron (depending on which of the terrible 2 are running the country when this finally works its way through the legal system and the govt is done squandering OUR money to satisfy the CBIs desire for slaves)

    Frankly I'm getting sick of so called "business leaders" treating employees like slaves and haranguing people to give up their rights with veiled threats such as "profits are tight this year, we might have to make some job cuts unless everyone signs this Working Time Opt Out, if it gets signed I'll persuade head office not to cut any jobs" <- idle threat which works to get people to do unpaid overtime etc. Bloody ridiculous.

    HR are a dept which should be banned, Personnel is what they should be called....People are NOT Photocopiers!!! I'm not a fucking resource I am a PERSON!

    Might also help if recruitment wasnt based on who the interviewer thought might be a good sexual conquest / bar buddy

    UK is uncompetitive as people spend far too bloody long at work, end up demotivated and spend all day browsing the web instead of working as they are royally hacked off.

    In Australia for example

    work >2 hours - get 10 mins break, work more than 4, get 10 and 30, work more than 6 get 10, 10 and 30, add on ten and so on.

    Compared to here - work 6 and get 20 mins, (ok most say 4 hours and get 10 - 15) so HR and managers decide to make shifts 5 hrs and 55 mins long so they dont have to issue breaks.

    CBI has no right to be sticking its nose into employees rights, they can sod off, minimum wage will cost millions of jobs!! <- uh huh, a few maybe, which were going to be shipped to india / china anyway.

    Perhaps there should be an enquiry into who Bribes......I mean donates to the big 2 political parties.

    At the end of the day, this country is overworked, overstressed and under appreciated, no wonder Britain is a nation of Alcoholics.

  16. Alan Fisher


    "a blow to businesses when times are hard"

    well businesses have been giving us blows whether times are hard or not. About time business realised that we workers are their biggest assets and it's time to treat us like humans, not cattle.

    I've had a "more than acceptable" number of days off sick in the last 6 months due to totally unavoidable circumstances; severe tooth infection, being knocked off my bike by a 4-wheeled fool and gastoenteritis....I was evn taken to a disciplinary for it, until I challenged their right to do that, the disciplinary was suddenly dropped.

    But how can companies think they can do that and get away with it? To threaten to fire someone because they've been ill "more often than is allowed"? Like that's something one can control!

  17. Mike Smith

    Sensible ruling from the EU - keep 'em coming

    "Businesses themselves also suffer when staff take sick leave, and we had hoped that a compromise could have been achieved over unused holiday time," said the CBI's director of HR policy, Katja Hall"

    Poor Katja. What a bummer to realise that business have such a high reliance on meatware deployment, and that businesses in fact only exist to provide support and resources to other meatware units.

    Or in simple English - get a grip, you stupid bitch.

    (And before people hoik the flamethrowers out, I've no time at all for skivers, but any HR department with a bit of common savvy should be able to differentiate between the genuinely ill and mere chancers)

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