The ECJ has ruled that a worker’s accrued annual leave entitlement will not be lost in the event of their death.
In the recent case of Bollacke v Klaas & Kock, Mr. Bollacke had been ill since 2009 and at the time of his death had accrued 140.5 days annual leave. His widow sought €16,000 from her husband’s employers, the supermarket chain Klaas v Kock, in respect of this untaken leave.
A German court had found that the contract of employment was terminated on death and therefore an entitlement to annual leave was lost.
The matter was referred to the ECJ who found that the Working Time Directive superseded national law.
The ECJ noted that the WTD did not allow any derogation from its provisions and could not be interpreted to suggest that a worker’s entitlement to annual leave ended on death. The court concluded that it was an ‘important principle of social law’ that the right to take annual leave and the right to payment for annual leave ‘constitute two aspects of a single right’.
In addition, there is no need for a worker to have made an application take the leave to be entitled to the payment in lieu.
The ECJ’s decision in this case makes it all the more important for employers to have good systems in place to manage leave that may continue to accrue whilst an employee is on long term absence from work.
If you would like to discuss this case, the systems you have in place for managing leave, or any aspect of employment law with a member of our team, call us on 01483 215355 or email your details to [email protected].