The Employment Appeal Tribunal has decided that, when an employee has accrued annual leave whilst they have been off sick for a whole year, an employer may impose a carry over period of 18 months after which entitlement to take the annual leave disappears.
The 18 month period must begin at the end of the leave year in which the annual leave was accrued, so, for example, leave accrued in 2014 would disappear as of July in 2016. This is a welcome decision for employers because it provides some clarity on what happens to annual leave when an employee is on long term sickness absence. This has constantly been questionable since the original decision in Stringer that annual leave continues to accrue during sickness absence.
The decision also means that entitlement to pay in lieu of holiday accrued but untaken would disappear in the same way.
Where an employee is off sick for less than a full year, he will have no claim to carry holiday over to the subsequent leave year provided that the employer has given him the opportunity to take annual leave in the year that it was accrued when he was back in work.
The case discussed above is Plumb v Duncan Print Group UKEAT/0071/15/DA
For further clarification please contact the Peninsula Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.