The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has ruled that employees can only carry over unused holiday due to sickness absence for a maximum of 18 months.
The EAT also found that absent members of staff do not need to prove that illness was the reason for not taking the holiday.
In the case of Plumb v Duncan Print Group, Mr Plumb was employed as a printer at the organisation in 1987. Following an accident at work in April 2010, he took almost four years of sick leave without taking any holiday until being dismissed in February 2014. During this time he had accrued 60 days of holiday leave.
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Plumb first notified Duncan Print Group of his intention to take holiday leave in summer 2013, but the organisation stated that he was only entitled to holiday if he requested it and only for the year in which it was requested. However, this ruling applies only to the mandatory four weeks holiday under the Working Time Regulations 1998.
A previous ruling in Sood Enterprises v Healy found that the additional holiday is not allowed to be carried over.
In the case of Plumb v Duncan Print Group, Mr Justice Lewis granted both parties leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal.
During the ruling, Mr Justice Lewis said: “EU law does not confer an unlimited right to carry over periods of annual leave to subsequent years.
“The directive, at most, only requires that employees on sick leave are able to take annual leave within a period of 18 months of the end of the leave year in respect of which the annual leave arises.”
With regard to the need for employees to prove that illness was the cause of missing holiday, he added: “The Employment Tribunal erred in concluding that an employee who was on sick leave needed to demonstrate that he was unable, by reason of his medical condition, to take annual leave.”