When annual leave and sickness coincide

06 Jun 2018

There may be times when annual leave and sickness collide, which brings up a host of issues for pharmacies to deal with.

What happens if an employee falls sick when on holiday?

Cases by the European Court of Justice have held that if an employee becomes sick before or during a pre-arranged holiday, they are entitled to postpone their annual leave to another date. This may mean that they need to carry it over to the next holiday year. This applies to the first four weeks laid down in European law, not the additional 1.6 weeks prescribed by the UK Working Time Regulations.

If an employee does fall sick while on annual leave, you can:

  • Ask them to report sickness absence in line with your reporting requirements.
  • Carry out a return to work interview to ascertain the nature of the illness and whether they are fully recovered or it is part of an ongoing condition. This will help you determine next steps.
  • Ask for medical evidence either from a GP or an Occupational Health Report.

If you have reason to believe someone’s sickness is not genuine, for example someone has brought to your attention that they have posted lots of photos on Facebook of them having a lovely holiday, you may need to investigate the allegations of misconduct.

If you suspect an employee is malingering, you should not use social media sites to stalk employees and dig as much ‘dirt’ up as possible. You should only seek targeted and relevant information.

Only once you have carried out this investigation and have credible evidence can you proceed to a disciplinary hearing. Seek advice from the NPA Employment Law Advisory Service Team to help you navigate through the process.

What can I do if an employee requests to take holiday during a period of sickness absence?

In most cases, the employee will make this type of request because they no longer qualify for Statutory Sick Pay.

The employee does have the right to nominate when they take their leave, even if on sick leave, subject to notice requirements. The employer is within their rights to issue a counter notice and refuse. However if you refuse and the employee is unlikely to return from sickness absence in that annual leave year, you could be acting in violation of the Working Time Regulations.

Seek legal advice from the NPA Employment Law Advisory Service Team on 0330 123 0558 or employmentadvice@npa.co.uk to discuss this further.