The ECJ has, this morning, handed down its opinion in Stringer v HMRC (previously known as Ainsworth v HMRC. The judgment should be available this afternoon here, but for now, we simply have a Press Summary.
According to the Press Summary (which isn't entirely clear), the ECJ has held:
- a worker who is on sick-leave for the whole of an annual leave year is entitled to a period of four weeks' paid annual leave, despite the fact they are not actually at work. The national courts can decide whether the paid leave can be taken during that year, or whether it should be carried over to another year, but either way the employee is entitled to be paid at some point
- the right to paid annual leave is not extinguished at the end of a leave year if the worker was on sick leave for the whole of that year, or if he was absent on sick leave for part of the year and was still on sick-leave when his employment terminates
This is not going to be a popular decision with employers. The House of Lords will now give a final judgment, and (in the light of the ECJ opinion) will no doubt overturn the Court of Appeal's decision from April 2005 that the right to paid holiday leave did not accrue during periods of sickness absence.
[Thanks to Gillian Cumming of Just Employment Law for telling me about this]