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Sick employee can choose not to take holiday leave and postpone it, but not indefinitely.

17 July 2015 #Employment

In relation to sickness and holiday leave, an issue which sometimes arises is whether an employee on sick leave has to demonstrate that he was unable by reason of illness to take holiday for it to be carried forward. Another question is whether there is an unlimited right to carry forward.

In Plumb v Duncan Print Group Limited the EAT has confirmed that an employee does not have to show that s/he was too ill take leave during sick leave. The employee may choose whether to take holiday leave during sick leave or to postpone the leave until they are fit to return to work.

Mr Plumb, a printer, took four years' sick leave following an accident. Upon dismissal he sought payment for 60 days' accrued holiday for 2010, 2011 and 2012. The employment tribunal dismissed the claim because he was unable to show that his medical condition was the reason he did not take his leave.

On appeal the EAT overturned the finding. Article 7 of the Directive does not require a sick employee to take annual leave during the leave year or to show he was unable by reason of sickness to take the leave. He may be unable or unwilling to take it, as per the decision of the Court of Appeal in Larner and is entitled to take it at a later date. Regulation 13(9) of the Working Time Regulations 1998 must be interpreted to give effect to the Directive. Note that this case concerned only the four weeks' leave granted by Regulation 13 and not any additional leave under Regulation 13A. In Sood Enterprises v Healy the EAT held that the additional leave is not eligible for carry forward.

On timing, however, the EAT ruled that such leave cannot be carried forward indefinitely and that it may be limited to 18 months' carry forward from the end of the leave year. The EAT held that it is clear from the wording of the Directive and the case law of the CJEU that national law is not required to allow carry forward without limit and that Regulation 13(9) should be read as permitting a worker to take annual leave within 18 months of the end of the leave year in which it accrued. In KHS AG v Schulte the CJEU held that carry forward may expire no earlier than 18 months and held that a shorter period might also be appropriate (in that case 15 months). Note

Note however that in Plumb permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal was granted to both parties.

Clarkslegal, specialist Employment lawyers in London, Reading and throughout the Thames Valley.
For further information about this or any other Employment matter please contact Clarkslegal's employment team by email at by telephone 020 7539 8000 (London office), 0118 958 5321 (Reading office) or by completing the form on this page.
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