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Workers can reclaim holidays lost to sickness

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[Thanks to Lionel Stride of 1 Temple Gardens for preparing this case summary]

The ECJ has handed down its decision in Pereda, which is authority for the proposition that a period of illness whilst on holiday does not count towards the minimum period of 4 weeks paid annual leave under the Working Time Directive(WTD).

Mr. Pereda, a specialist driver, suffered an accident at work around 14 days before the commencement of his allocated period of 4 weeks annual leave. The injury put him out of action for 6 weeks. His sick leave therefore almost entirely overlapped with his planned holiday but his request for an additional period of annual leave was refused. Under the ECJs ruling his period of sick leave should not have counted towards his holiday time.

The ruling emphasises that there can be no derogations from the entitlement to paid annual leave, the purpose of which is to enable a worker to rest and enjoy a period of relaxation and leisure. By contrast the purpose of entitlement to sick leave is to ensure that he can recover from being ill. Consequently, if a worker decides not to take annual leave during a period of illness, he must be granted a replacement holiday period to ensure that he is not deprived of his entitlement to rest, relaxation and leisure. This principle is likely to apply whether the employee falls sick before or during the actual period of leave.

Click to hear Daniel Barnett discussing this case with David Mellor on LBC 97.3