The Advocate-General has, this morning, handed down his opinion in Stringer v HMRC (previously known as Ainsworth v HMRC).
By way of background, in April 2005, the Court of Appeal held that the right to four weeks' statutory paid holiday under the Working Time Regulations 1998 does not continue to accrue whilst an employee is off on long-term sick-leave (see bulletins 22/4/05 and 3/11/05). But all did not rest there, for the employees appealed to the House of Lords, who referred the question to the ECJ (see bulletin 3/11/06).
The Advocate-General (whose opinion is normally followed by the full court) has stated:-
- entitlement to paid holiday does accrue whilst an employee is absent on sickleave;
- however, workers may not take their holiday while they are on sickleave; and,
- after termination of the contract, workers are entitled to a compensatory payment to reflect accrued but untaken holiday leave, even where the worker was on sick leave for the full holiday year.
The opinion is arid - verging on incomprehensible - but the brave-hearted can find it here. [Thanks to Michael Ford of Old Square Chambers for telling me about this opinion]