If an employer denies a worker their right to paid holiday leave, does the worker lose their unused holiday at the end of the year? No, held the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

Workers who have been denied their right to take paid holiday leave will be able to claim for any holiday pay they are owed. The CJEU has held that if a worker is prevented from taking their holiday as paid leave because the employer refuses to pay, then they are being denied their EU rights.

The Working Time Directive was transposed into English law by the Working Time Regulations 1998. In this case the Employer asserted that the Regulations provide that when a new holiday year starts, the worker loses the right to bring a claim for holiday pay issues from the preceding year. The CJEU disagreed and stated that such an interpretation of the Regulations is incompatible with the EU Directive and that the worker here should receive the past 13 years’ worth of holiday pay owed, totalling £27,000.

The result of this case is that workers who have been denied their right to take paid holiday leave can claim holiday pay dating back to 1996 when the original Working Time Directive came into force.