Justice prevails for sickly workers
Published: 22 Jun 2012
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has expanded on its insistence that all workers throughout the EU have a right to reclaim holiday time affected by illness.
The ruling, made after an appeal by a Spanish trade union, is binding on all EU members, including the UK. The court in Luxembourg said the EU Working Time Directive (Directive 2003/88/EC) grants workers a right to at least four weeks' paid annual leave "even where such leave coincides with periods of sick leave".
"The purpose of entitlement to paid annual leave is to enable the worker to rest and enjoy a period of relaxation and leisure," the court said. "The purpose of entitlement to sick leave is different, since it enables a worker to recover from an illness that has caused him to be unfit for work."
The judgment goes further than the court's earlier rulings on sick leave. Previously, the court had said that people who were sick before their holiday started could take their leave at another time.
An EU source said that the ECJ ruling has full, immediate effect EU-wide, regardless of the type or size of employer. Workers who believe their employer has infringed their right to paid annual leave can seek justice in their national courts.
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