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Can you claim time back from work if you get sick on holiday?

PUBLISHED: 11:49 03 September 2019 | UPDATED: 11:49 03 September 2019

workers affected by illness on their holidays can claim the time back.  Photo: Getty Images.

workers affected by illness on their holidays can claim the time back. Photo: Getty Images.

There is something depressingly inevitable about getting sick on holiday.

Vanessa Bell, head of employment law at Ipswich’s Prettys law firm. Photo: Prettys/Stillview.Vanessa Bell, head of employment law at Ipswich’s Prettys law firm. Photo: Prettys/Stillview.

And many workers just accept it as bad luck and worse timing, resigned to the fact their holiday has been wasted.

What many don't know is under a little-known judgement by the European Court of Justice, workers affected by illness on their holidays can claim the time back.

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Employees have the right to ask for annual leave entitlement to be reallocated if their holidays have been spoilt by sickness.

However Vanessa Bell, head of employment law at Ipswich's Prettys law firm, said there are concerns among employers some workers could take advantage of this rule.

"The case law from Europe states that the purpose of a holiday is to have time for 'rest and relaxation' but unfortunately people do often fall ill when on holiday", he said.

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"While many employers would always take a sympathetic approach, it can be difficult to determine if an employee is genuinely unwell.

"They need to consider how the reported sickness prevented the staff member from enjoying this 'relaxation'. For example, if you were to suffer a broken arm on holiday you probably wouldn't be permitted to reclaim your holiday time because there is a reasonable expectation that you would still be able to rest and relax.

"Obviously, it would be a different matter if you were to end up being ill for several days in hospital."

Ms Bell explained it is the responsibility of the employer to establish of the worker wants the holiday to be reinstated.

She added: "If they are only entitled to statutory sick pay, then they might prefer to not have the holiday rescheduled as they will receive less money. The employee has a choice between the two.

"Employers should state in their sickness policies that if an employee is sick while away they have to report it immediately.

"We would also recommend holding return to work interviews when they arrive back so the employee can legitimise their sickness."

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