Holiday back pay paves way for further claims

A ruling by an employment appeal tribunal means that thousands of employees
on long-term sick leave may be able to claim their full 20 days paid annual
holiday.

In a test case that could lead to a spate of similar claims, a factory
worker suffering a bad back has won thousands of pounds in holiday pay for the
years he had been absent.

The tribunal rejected the appeal by the employer and ruled he was entitled
to the money under Working Time Regulations.

The Engineering Employers’ Federation, which contested the case, is
concerned that the widespread practice of keeping long-term sickness staff on
the company payroll has now become a potentially significant expense for
employers.

Peter Martin, the EEF’s director of employment policy, called on the
Government to address what he believes is a legal anomaly.

"The Government has to reverse this mistake in the drafting of the
Working Time Regulations as soon as possible, as this ruling has nothing to do
with the original aim of improving health and safety," he said.

Nick Chronias, an employment solicitor at Beachcroft Wansbroughs, said the
implications are widespread and contracts barring staff from accruing pay after
a certain period of sickness will probably be invalid.

"Staff who have been absent for a significant time will be able to ask
for holiday and be paidfor it.

"The same may well apply to those on additional maternity leave,"
he added.

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