EU ruling means holiday sick time could be claimed back

Updated: 
Caught a nasty cold on your summer hol? Relax, Brussels will back you with extra legally enforceable paid time off later in the year.

EU judges have ruled that workers across the EU have every right to win back holiday time if they are affected by sickness. A reason to celebrate for often exhausted employees - or more cost for business?



More time off

Certainly it's good news for employees in theory. If you do fall sick on holiday and wish to claim further time off because of illness, follow precautions. Employment expert Beth Hale from legal firm Stephenson Harwood told AOL Money "you should get as much evidence as you can while on holiday."

There may be potential issues if a doctor's note, for example, is written in a foreign language however, she warns though.


"I would come at it from the employer's perspective," Pinsent Masons employment law partner Selwyn Blyth told AOL Money. "The feeling from employers is that it's a ruling open to abuse. The ECJ decision suggests that if an employee has gone on holiday and returns looking tanned and refreshed and tells their employer they've been ill - that's difficult."

Smart employers, Blyth thinks, should make the EU ruling difficult for an employee to abuse. "If you are sick, you should have to ring in and say 'I'm ill'. That may discourage some people."

And if you're ill on holiday and you don't inform your employer then the employer may be within their rights not to pay you further sick leave warns Blyth. "You could insist that an employee must go to the doctor wherever you are and get a doctor's certificate, and the company could pay for it. That's another way to exert control or leverage."

Employer coughs up

Inevitably the move will be a cost on business. But currently UK workers take, on average, fewer amounts of time compared to the average European business. No doubt UK business will be monitoring such levels closely. Some UK employers such as the BBC, already hand their staff this benefit.

The CBI is certainly not happy about the move, and would like the judgement rescinded.

"As a result of earlier European Court of Justice judgements," it said in an emailed statement, "this change has already happened in the UK, bringing along headaches for employers. With the rules currently under discussion again in Brussels, the CBI would like to see the judgements reversed so that the directive is focussed on the health and safety of the workforce, as originally intended."

The UK's top ten dream jobs

The UK's top ten dream jobs


More stories