Sickness and Holidays – ECJ case update

Another interesting case update on the thorny and ever-developing issue of overlapping holidays and sickness -

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has reiterated that the purpose of paid annual leave is to enable workers to rest and enjoy their free time, whereas the purpose of sick leave is to enable a worker to recover from an illness that has caused him to be unfit for work. The ECJ had already held in the Pereda case that a worker who was on sick leave prior to, and during, a period of previously scheduled annual leave had the right, at his request, to take the annual leave when he had recovered.

Going one step further than it did in Pereda, the ECJ held that the point at which the temporary incapacity for work arose is irrelevant. A worker is entitled to take paid annual leave which coincides with sick leave at a later time, irrespective of whether the sickness occurred before or during the annual leave.

It will be interesting to see whether employees who fall sick during holidays (perhaps from food poisoning whilst on an exotic vacation) will seek to use this ruling to their advantage.

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