The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled that when an employee ends his employment relationship, he is entitled to an allowance if he could not use up all or part of his right to paid annual leave due to sickness.

In the Case C-341/15, Mr Hans Maschek, a civil servant of the city of Vienna, retired at his own request. For a couple of weeks he was on sick leave, whilst he also claimed that he fell ill again prior to his retirement. After he retired, his employer refused to pay him an allowance in lieu of paid annual leave not taken, claiming that a worker who, at his own request, terminates the employment relationship, particularly because he applies for retirement, is not entitled to such an allowance.

In handing down its judgement, the CJEU recalled that according to Directive 2003/88/EC, concerning working time, every worker is entitled to paid annual leave of at least four weeks and that the right to paid annual leave is a particularly important principle of EU social law. It said that such right is granted to every worker, irrespective of his state of health.

In order to ensure the effectiveness of the right to annual leave, the Court proposed the following principle: a worker whose employment relationship has ended and who, pursuant to an agreement with his employer, while continuing to receive his salary, is required not to report to his place of work during a specified period preceding his retirement, is not entitled, should the case arise, to an allowance in lieu of paid annual leave not taken during this period, unless it was owing to sickness that he could not use up that entitlement.