There has been a lot of coverage in the news over the past few days about the rights of workers who fall sick whilst on holiday from work.

 The BBC and the Telegraph, amongst others, have reported on the European Court of Justice’s ruling in relation to the case of ANGED v Federación de Asociaciones Sindicales and ors, in which it was held that a worker who is sick during annual leave is able to interrupt their leave and take it at a later date, irrespective of whether they fell sick before they went on leave or during their leave.

These reports suggest that this decision represents a significant change in the law, but regular readers of this blog will be aware that there have already been a number of decisions, both by the European courts and the Employment Tribunal in the UK, which touch on this subject. Indeed, I first reported on Pereda v Madrid Movilidad, the key case which influenced the ECJ’s decision in ANGED, back in November 2009.

Furthermore, whilst the judgement in ANGED is binding on the UK, there had already been indications that the Employment Tribunal would take the same approach, such as in the case of Shah v First West Yorkshire Limited, which I covered at the start of 2010. In this case, the Tribunal stated that they were interpreting UK law so that it was “compatible with the underlying thrust of the legislation”.

Whilst there is no doubt that the ruling in ANGED bolsters the interpretation of the principles set out in Pereda, I don’t believe that this decision is as significant as the media suggests. ANGED does confirm that these rules also cover workers who fall sick whilst on leave as opposed to prior to it, which was not entirely clear from Pereda, but it has always seemed likely to me that this was the case (as can be seen in my blog on Shah).

So, all very interesting but it doesn’t really change anything despite what the press are saying.