Employment law reforms continue apace: but no sign of any measures dealing with holiday and sickness absence

By Kate Hodgkiss

As the holiday season gets well under way, employers may well be wondering when they will finally have a clear understanding of their workers’ holiday entitlements; after all, it is quite some time since Stringer made its mark in 2009 and left the whole question of the impact of sickness absence on holiday entitlement well and truly up in the air. The government initially responded positively to this, launching a consultation in May 2011 with its proposals for sorting out the conflict between UK and European law over this perennial HR issue. However, the consultation closed in August 2011, and despite almost daily announcements about other employment law reforms we have yet to see anything that clears up one of the most important, and common, issues employers have to manage.

By way of reminder, the UK’s Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR) adopt a ‘use it or lose it’ approach to holiday entitlement. On the face of it, therefore, workers who have not used up their full statutory holiday entitlement by the end of a holiday year have no right to carry forward the unused holiday into the next holiday year.

In Stringer, however, the ECJ decided that if workers are unable to take their holiday during the holiday year because of sickness absence, they must be allowed to carry it forward into the next holiday year. Shortly after Stringer, the ECJ gave another judgment in the case of Pereda…

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