Warning over holiday sick leave ruling









A landmark legal ruling allowing workers to claim back holiday time lost to illness will expose employers to exploitation, it was warned today.



The CBI said the European Court judgment, in a case involving a Spanish council worker, was "open to abuse".

Francisco Pereda, employed by Madrid City Council, launched a legal action after being refused the right to alter his holiday plans because of an injury suffered just before he was due to take annual leave.

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg ruled that he should have been allowed to alter his holiday dates - including the option to postpone his holiday and take it in the next holiday year.

The case did not involve someone taken ill during their holiday and then demanding compensatory sick leave.

The court ruling made clear that if a "worker does not wish to take annual leave during a period of sick leave, annual leave must be granted to him for a different period".

Three months ago the House of Lords reached a similar conclusion in a case brought by UK Customs staff, declaring that workers could, in certain circumstances, build up holiday entitlement while on long-term sick leave.

After the European ruling, Katja Hall, of the CBI, said: "Many firms already take a common-sense and sympathetic approach. But allowing employees to reclassify their holiday as sick leave opens the door to abuse."

Long-term sick leave already costs the UK economy more than £5 billion a year.

The EU ruling does not stipulate any time at which an illness could trigger the right to alter holidays, but lawyers examining the EU ruling say the result could be interpreted as giving workers the right to claim extra holiday time even if they have been taken ill after their holiday has begun.

Owen Warnock, a partner at law firm Eversheds, said most employers currently could the attitude that it is "bad luck" for an employer if they fall ill while on holiday.

"The danger of abuse is clear - an employee could increase his or her holiday entitlement by ensuring that in most years they alleged they were sick while on holiday."

And at law firm Lovells, Naomi Feinstein said: "This could effectively be interpreted as meaning that you are only sick on your employer's time, and not your own."



Conservative MEP Roger Helmer said the impact of the ruling could hit small businesses hardest, because of the difficulties of organising holiday time:

"We are once again replacing the goodwill and strong relationships between employers and employees with legal statutes dictated by unelected judges in Luxembourg" he said.

"This ruling will create a legal minefield for businesses, particularly small businesses, who have to plan all leave extremely carefully. During the summer holidays, this ruling could leave small businesses vulnerable to severe staff shortages."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins win the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
News
news
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Retirement Coordinator - Financial Services

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...

Recruitment Genius: Annuities / Pensions Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...

Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Officer - Altrincham - up to £24,000.

£18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor