Lords to decide on paid leave for long-term sick

Employers’ relief about a recent case that decided employees on long-term sick do not have the right to four weeks’ paid holiday each year, could be short-lived, after lawyers were given leave to appeal the ruling to the House of Lords.

In April, the Court of Appeal dismissed the claim in Ainsworth v Inland Revenue for accrued statutory holiday and compensation for untaken leave on termination of employment.

Ainsworth was dismissed by the Inland Revenue after a period of ill health lasting for more than a year. He brought a claim for holiday pay under the Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR).

The Court of Appeal decided that the natural meaning of ‘leave’ denoted a release from what would otherwise be an obligation (i. the obligation to be at work). As Ainsworth was not ‘at work’, he did not need to be released from this obligation.

The WTR are also based on health and safety concerns, intended to release employees from the pressures of daily work. As Ainsworth was not at work, he would gain no such benefit by taking leave.

A date has not yet been set for the hearing in the House of Lords.

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