EAT ruling on holiday pay a real sickener for employers

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 from 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 practise of keeping employees on long-term sickness on the
company payroll has now become a potentially significant expense for employers.

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

“The
Government has to reverse this mistake in the drafting of the Working Time
Regulations as soon as possible, as the 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 that the
implications were 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 paid for it. The same may well apply to those on additional maternity
leave,” he said.

By Ross Wigham

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