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Holiday pay and carry over

Please note that there has now been a significant change to legislation mentioned in this article due to the coronavirus outbreak. Please follow this link for the most recent update.

What are minimum holiday entitlements in the EU?

The European Working Time Directive entitles workers to at least 4 weeks' holiday per year. Many countries, including the UK, choose to give workers additional holiday entitlement over and above the minimum.

UK holiday entitlements

The Working Time Regulations 1998 gives UK employees an additional 1.6 weeks of leave per year. The Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) has looked at whether the right to carry over holiday due to sickness applies only to the 4 week entitlement under the Directive.

In TSN v Hyvinvointialan, the ECJ considered two cases involving Finnish law. In each case the employee had been prevented from taking all their leave in the holiday year due to sickness absence. This included holiday entitlement over and above the 4 week minimum.

Law on unused holiday

One of the key questions for the ECJ was whether member states could have domestic laws which limited carry over of unused holiday to 4 weeks. The ECJ confirmed that the rules about extra holiday over and above the 4 week minimum were controlled by domestic law rather than European law. It is not unlawful to limit carry over of unused holiday to 4 weeks.

How much holiday can you carry over?

This case confirms the position adopted by the EAT in Sood Enterprises v Healey. Unless there is a contractual right which changes the position, carry over will be limited to 4 weeks.

At Frettens, all of our solicitors offer a free initial meeting or chat on the phone to answer your questions. If this article raises issues for you or your business, please call us on 01202 499255 and the Employment team will be happy to discuss it with you.


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