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Q: I heard that there’s been a recent case which has resulted in workers on long-term sick leave being entitled to paid holidays. This can’t be true can it? A: I’m afraid it is. The recent case of Stringer v HMRC is a case in point. The European Court of Justice or ECJ ruled that workers do accrue holiday whilst they are off on sick leave, and therefore, they are entitled to take this holiday when they return to work, or receive a payment in lieu of holiday if their employment terminates. This judgement goes against the UK’s current position under the Working Time Directive (WTD) that those who do not use their full holiday entitlement within a holiday year are not entitled to carry it over. The case is currently waiting to be heard by the House of Lords, who will make the final decision but it is likely the ECJ’s judgement will prevail over the WTD. This decision has serious ramifications for employers, who must ensure that their sickness policies are up to date and their procedures for dealing with sickness absence are efficient, otherwise it will see employees building up substantial amounts of holiday. This could cause serious disruptions for business.

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