The facts of this case involved a German worker, Mr Bollacke, who was absent from work after falling seriously ill in 2009. Mr Bollacke died on 19 November 2010, by which point he had accrued 140.5 days' holiday during his period of sickness absence. His widow raised a claim for unpaid holiday under the Working Time Directive.
Under the Working Time Directive, workers are entitled to a minimum of 4 weeks' holiday each leave year. Where employment is terminated, workers are entitled to a payment in lieu of any accrued but untaken holidays. The ECJ held in this case that there can be no derogation from the entitlement to paid leave and that the Directive precludes the entitlement to unpaid annual leave being extinguished on death.
This may be a surprisingly result for many employers who would have assumed that any entitlement to unpaid leave that an employee on long term sick leave may have would have been extinguished by their death. Employers may now face claims from an employee's estate for payment in respect of periods of unpaid leave.
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