The European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) has ruled that a worker who falls ill and is unfit to work during a period of statutory annual leave must be allowed to reschedule the period of annual leave that coincided with their ill health.
In its judgment of the case (Asociación Nacional de Grandes Empresas de Distribución (ANGED) v Federación de Asociaciones Sindicales (FASGA) and others C-78/11), the ECJ commented on the importance of paid annual leave and pointed out that the purpose of annual leave is to enable a worker to rest and enjoy a period of relaxation, while the purpose of sick leave is to enable a worker to recover from an illness that has rendered him unfit for work.
In an earlier judgment, the ECJ held that a worker who became unfit to work before a period of annual leave could elect to postpone that period of leave until a later date (Francisco Vicente Pereda v Madrid Movilidad SA C-277/08). The ECJ has extended that principle to ensure that workers who fall ill during a period of annual leave can also reschedule the period of planned leave that coincided with their unfitness for work.
The new period of annual leave need only correspond with the duration of the overlap between the period of annual leave originally scheduled and the period of sick leave. The new period of annual leave may, if necessary, be rolled over and taken outside of the relevant holiday year.
In the run up to the holiday season, employers and employees should be aware that employees have the right to postpone their holiday and count their absence as sick leave if they fall ill before or during a holiday.
For any further information, please contact Chloe Vernon.