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Interpretation of Annual Leave during Absence

As per our recent article, the ECJ (European Court of Justice) have decided that workers who are ill during their annual leave should be permitted to reschedule that annual leave.

UK Employers were concerned about the impact this would have on cost and production in their businesses. They had right to be concerned when the Government estimated that the cost to UK private-sector employers would be more than £100 million per year in extra wage payments; however, given that there are about 4.5 million private-sector employers in the UK, this works out at only £22.22 per private employer, which does not seem so bad. Also, the ECJ ruling only applies to the Working Time Directive’s paid annual leave which is four weeks.

Employers fear that employees may take advantage of this new ruling but as over 40% of the UK workforce is only entitled to Statutory Sick Pay, it makes little sense for them to turn their paid holiday entitlement into sick leave. You should also remember SSP is not paid for the first 3 days of absence.

Where UK businesses may have concerns is where they provide contractual sick pay. It would be valuable to review your absence procedures for example, asking staff to provide a medical certificate covering the absence of a pre-booked holiday.

Communication will be key in any changes you make to your absence procedures; this ensures that employees understand what is expected of them in the event of them becoming ill whilst on holiday.

Use the GP’s fit note and consider light duties, and if you pay company sick pay consider reviewing the length of time this will remain in payment and once the company sick pay is exhausted it may be appropriate to consider the employee’s capability to work.

We should also remember that as an employer, you are only required to pay sick leave if the worker is unfit to do his job NOT unfit to go on holiday.

Please contact Simple HR if you require more detailed information about the changes caused by the ruling.

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