Staff on long-term sick leave could be entitled to holiday pay after an important development in Brussels last night.
The advocate-general said that employees should accrue holiday pay while absent under the Working Time Directive.
He added that an employee could not take this holiday entitlement while on sick leave, but was entitled to the money in lieu if their contract was terminated – even if they were off sick for an entire holiday year.
His opinion is not binding, but is usually followed by the European Court of Justice, which is set to consider the issue in the case of Stringer v HMRC.
Lois Kill, solicitor at law firm Macfarlanes, said: “Employers may now be faced with an increased termination cost for employees who have been on extended sick leave.
“However, the law still remains unclear on how this impacts on contractual holiday entitlement during sick leave, and no doubt there is still room for future questions to arise as employees become more aware of their rights and push the boundaries.”