Where an employee switches from full-time to part-time work having accrued but been unable to take holiday whilst full-time, his accrued entitlement cannot be reduced to reflect the new hours, according to the European Court of Justice.

The decision is limited to the situation where an employee has been unable to take his holiday before the switch. There is no guidance on when an employee is to be treated as unable to take holiday.

Previous caselaw provides that those on maternity leave cannot take holiday, so employers may wish to suggest that employees intending to return part-time take their accrued entitlement at full-time rates on their return and prior to reducing their hours.

The ECJ decision also suggests that workers on parental leave at a holiday year end should be permitted to carry over accrued entitlement to the following leave year (in the same way as for those on maternity leave).

The decision would seem to apply equally to contractual holiday rights.

UK regulations do not adequately reflect this (or other) ECJ decisions on statutory holiday and so require amendment – but it may be some time before this issue reaches the top of the government's to do list! (Zentralbetriebsrat der Landeskrankenhäuser Tirols v Land Tirol, ECJ)