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Workers who fall ill in their annual holidays can avail extra days off ECJ has ruled

Date: (22 June 2012)    |    

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The European Court of Justice has ruled that the worker who became ill during their holidays can have more time off to make up for it.
It would mean that those who fall ill during their annual leave would be able to get additional days off for the days spent incapacitated.
The ruling has not gone well with the Employers groups who have warned that the ruling would add 'burdens' to businesses 'which at this time they can ill afford'.
The court has declared that workers must have at least four weeks of paid annual leave, even where such leave overlap the periods of sick leave.
After hearing a case brought by Spanish trade unionists against a department store, judges in the Luxembourg court said ‘the point at which the temporary incapacity arose was irrelevant'.
They added that as a result, a worker was entitled to take paid annual leave, which concurred with a period of sick leave, at a later point in time, irrespective of the point at which the incapacity for work arose.
In the case of UK firms it is being expected that the changes, irrespective of the size or sector of the firms would cost UK firms around £100million.
Workers who fall sick before their holidays start could already reschedule their leave, according to an earlier ECJ ruling.
The latest judgment falls under the Working Time Directive. The UK has managed to secure an opt-out from these rules to allow employees to work for more than 48 hours in a week, but it cannot opt out of any other part of the directive.
Workers now can take their bosses to court, if their sick leave which could coincide with their annual holiday is breached, but will have to produce sick notes signed by doctors as evidence.
The judges insist that the changes come into immediate effect across the European Union but the Federation of Small Businesses urged the Government to 'avoid implementation of any ECJ ruling on annual leave and sick leave for as long as possible, given the ongoing negotiations on the Working Time Directive'.
It added that changing the law again 'would be unhelpful, confusing and add burdens for small businesses, which in present times they could ill afford.
Guy Bailey, the CBI's head of employment, said the changes were bringing headaches for employers. CBI is hoping that the rules which are under discussion in Brussels would be reversed so that the directive was focussed on the health and safety of the workforce as it was originally intended he added.
Employment relations Minister Norman Lamb said the case made the previous judgments stronger, but added that the directive need not be interpreted in this way, which involves extra cost for business.
The latest ECJ decision will come as a blow for the Government, which is trying to fight excessive regulations from Europe which ministers believe can only stifle economic growth.