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Holidays Built Up During Sick Leave

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has clarified the rights of workers on long term sick leave, to carry forward their untaken holiday within a time limit of 18 months from the end of the leave year in which it should have been taken.

The case was brought when the employee claimed a payment in lieu for untaken holiday when his employment came to an end after a long period of sick leave. He has been off work due to a work related accident for 4 years and had been unable to take his holiday during his time off sick.

The EAT decided that a worker should not be entitled to have their holiday carried forward indefinitely as defined by the Working Time Directive and EU case law. Therefore workers who have been absent for a number of years will only be entitled to back pay for a period of 18 months for holiday that they have accrued and not taken.

It is important that employers have a policy in place to deal with long term sickness. This is usually a “Capability Policy – Long term illness or disability”.

Employees are entitled to a period of 5.6 weeks of paid leave every year and they are required to take the leave and not be “paid off” for it.

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