The ECJ has already ruled that where a worker falls sick before a prearranged holiday, that leave may be rescheduled, including, if necessary, to the next leave year (Pereda v Madrid Movilidad SA).

However, until recently, the ECJ had not dealt specifically with the situation where a worker falls ill during pre-arranged holiday. This has now been clarified in Asociacion Nacional de Grandes Empresas de Distribucion (ANGED) v Federacion de Asociaciones Sindicales (FASGA) and others. In this case, several Spanish trade unions brought an action challenging collective agreements which did not allow workers to reschedule holiday if they became ill whilst on annual leave. The ECJ has now confirmed that if a worker falls ill during a holiday, the days on which they were ill can be taken as holiday at a later date. This gives effect to the underlying purpose of the annual leave provisions of the European Working Time Directive to give workers rest, relaxation and leisure time.

In its consultation on amending the Working Time Regulations, the Government has already proposed that workers can reschedule annual leave if they fall ill during holiday, including if necessary, carrying it over to the next leave year. It should be noted that this proposal, and the ECJ’s decision, only apply to the four weeks’ minimum holiday entitlement provided by the European Directive (the UK’s statutory provision is 5.6 weeks). Employers should check that their holiday provisions require employees to provide notification and evidence of sickness whilst on holiday.