What happens to holidays during sick leave?

By March 17, 2015Sickness

Holidays during sickness leave can become confusing if you don’t know the basic regulations to stick to.

Getting sick during holidays

If an employee falls sick during a period of holiday leave, you should let them reschedule, even if it means they carry some of their leave allowance into the next year.

If the employee chooses, they can take their holiday and turn it into sickness leave. They don’t have to, though, it may work out financially beneficial for them to take holiday pay rather than sick pay.

If they choose to reschedule their holiday and carry part, or all, of it forward into another year, you’ll need to work out how much they are entitled to carry forward.

There are a couple of key types of leave which apply to employees, some of them can be carried forward if an employee is ill, and some of them cannot.

Working Time Directive

The Working Time Directive (WTD) was put in place by the EU and entitles employees to 4 weeks paid leave a year. WTD derived leave can be carried forward if an employee is unable to take their leave due to sickness.

Working Time Regulations

The Working Time Regulations (WTR) were put in place by UK domestic law and entitle workers to 1.6 weeks paid leave, on top of their WTD leave. Together with WTD leave, WTR entitles UK full-time workers to 5.6 weeks (28 days) of paid leave a year. However, WTR derived leave cannot be carried forward.

Of course, it’s important to remember the golden rule of HR: always follow what’s in the employment contract. If your employment contract states more than the statutory 4 weeks can be carried forward, you should stick to it!

Accruing holidays

Regardless of the length of absence, employees will continue to accrue holidays as normal when they are sick.

If your employee is off on long-term sick, you can encourage them to use some of their holiday allowance instead of sick leave. Often, this works out financially better for the employee as holiday pay is usually higher than sickness pay. However, if the employee chooses to save their holiday and continue on sick leave, you can’t stop them.

Need more advice on manage employee sickness?

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