Sick Leave and Holiday: A Clearer Picture for Employers

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has held that workers on sick leave are not required to provide evidence that they are physically unable to take annual leave to carry over accrued unused statutory holiday to a subsequent leave year. It is sufficient that they are absent on sick leave and do not choose to take annual leave during that period.

Mr Plumb was employed as a printer for Duncan Print Group Ltd (DPGL). Having suffered an accident at work, Mr Plumb remained on sick leave between 26 April 2010 and 10 February 2014, when his employment terminated. DPGL’s leave year ran from 1 February to 31 January. Mr Plumb did not take or request any holiday until September 2013 when he requested permission to take all of his accrued holiday from 2010.

This case went to the Employment Appeal Tribunal where Mr Plumb argued that sick workers are not required to show that they are unable to take annual leave in order to be entitled to carried-over leave; it is sufficient to be absent on sick leave and choose not to take leave during that period. He also claimed that UK law does not prescribe a limit on the period during which leave can be carried over.

Niki Avraam, Employment Partner, comments: It was already clear from EU case law that accrued leave cannot be carried over indefinitely. However, the limit on the carry-over period to be read into the WTR 1998 had not been determined. This case confirms, subject to appeal, that leave can only be carried over for 18 months from the end of the leave year. Accrued leave which goes beyond that cut-off period will lapse.

Plumb v Duncan Print Group Ltd UKEAT/2015/0071

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