January 20, 2009

ECJ says sick workers due holiday pay

The European Court of Justice said employers must pay workers on sick leave up to four weeks of holiday pay after extended illnesses.

A worker does not lose his right to paid annual leave which he has been unable to exercises because of sickness, the court said in its ruling, The Times of London reported.

He must be compensated for his annual leave not taken, the court said.

The ruling, protested by the business community as costly during an economic downturn, means the benefits of sick leave and holiday pay do not overlap. Employees who lose their jobs or quit while on sick leave are entitled to any holiday pay they missed while sick, The Times said.

The decision will have serious financial and practical ramifications, said Tim Marshall, head of employment at British law firm DLA Piper.

In these difficult times, further constraints could prove too much for some businesses, he said.

Some attorneys said the decision would likely lead to British courts overturning a contradictory 2005 Court of Appeals ruling, The Times said.