In a landmark decision the Court of Appeal has ruled that workers on long-term sick leave do not accrue the right to paid holiday.
However, the case, Commissioners of Inland Revenue v Ainsworth, may have far-reaching consequences as judges made clear that regulations allowing staff paid holiday are only applicable to people who are actually at work.
The Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR) give workers the statutory right to four weeks paid holiday.
Under a controversial decision in Kigass Aero Components v Brown (2002) the Employment Appeals Tribunal held employees were entitled to be paid their holiday entitlement even if they had been off sick all year.
This has now been overturned, with the Court of Appeal deciding the regulations were not meant as a ‘windfall’ for workers.
Chris Davis, from Halliwell’s law firm, said changes to holiday and sickness policies will be needed as claims for any accrued holiday will now be affected by attendance records.
However he warned that care will be needed when putting this new statement of the law into practice as contracts of employment which offer greater rights for employees would supercede the ruling.