Holiday pay still due on death

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that holiday benefits should not be lost if an employee dies before claiming them. The decision overturns a German court that ruled a widow could not claim payments for holidays lost due to illness owed to her late husband. He had been seriously ill since 2009, as a result of which he was unfit to work until the date of his death. On that date, he had accumulated 140.5 days of annual leave outstanding.

In the case, Bollacke v K+K Klaas & Kock, Mr Bollacke’s widow and sole beneficiary sought up to €16,000 (£13,000) in lieu of lost holiday entitlement. Supermarket chain Klaus & Kock rejected her application for an allowance in lieu of the 140.5 days of annual leave he had outstanding, expressing doubts that the entitlement was inheritable.

The Landesarbeitsgericht (Higher Labour Court, Germany) ruled that when a worker dies the contract of employment is over, thus ending any holiday entitlements; however, the matter was referred to the ECJ, which said that in this case,European law superseded national law…

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