Holidays and Long Term Sick Leave

23 01 2009

There was reported this week a case from the European Court of Justice that will have employers and Europhobes going mad.  A case called Ainsworth v HMRC (which was actually five conjoined cases) made its way through the English courts to the House of Lords, who referred it to the ECJ.  The case (which has now changed its name to Stringer v HMRC, why I don’t know) centres on an interpretation of the Working Time Regulation and the difficult question of whether a person on long term sick leave accrues holiday (and thus the right o be paid for holiday) whilst off sick.  In all these cases the employees had used up all their entitlement to sick pay.


The answer handed down by the ECJ is fairly indigestible, but the answer is simple: yes.  In other words a person is on long term sick leave and they are no longer receiving sick pay, but their employment has not been terminated by the employer, they are entitled to be paid four weeks’ holiday pay when they return to work, or to be paid it in lieu when their employment terminates.  If the sick leave lasts longer than one year, the employee’s right to receive the holiday pay is preserved.  The case will now go back to the House of Lords who will have to adopt it.  Undoubtedly many employers, especially those of a Europhobe disposition, will be coughing and spluttering over this, especially at an otherwise very difficult time for most companies.  However, it does provide a good answer to the question not-quite-posed by Monty Python “what did Europe ever do for us?”


And now for something completely different: February 1st sees the annual uprating in compensation limits at Employment Tribunals taking effect, where the termination of employment (or other event giving rise to a claim) occurs.  The limit on a week’s pay for statutory redundancy pay or basic award will increase from £330 to £350 per week and the maximum compensatory award that an Employment Tribunal can make increases to £66,200.  

This article will appear in the “Docklands” and “Peninsula” newspaper week commencing 26th January




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