HR BLOG: When is a holiday not a holiday

There was a time when if someone was ill on holiday they shrugged their shoulders and said ruefully “Typical, the minute I stop I get ill”.

However, that was in a world before the Working Time Regulations. These EU Regulations, which come under health and safety legislation, state that everyone is entitled to 20 days’ paid holiday. This is given because everyone needs a rest from work.

So far so good, but in case law it was decided that if someone was ill on holiday they were not getting that important rest from work. Therefore they could claim that holiday time back as sick leave, as they were recuperating from illness not relaxing from work.

ACAS research has highlighted how employers are getting confused about what to pay employees when sick leave and holiday collide. Given the following, this is not really surprising!

The first problem is that in Britain employees are entitled to 28 days’ holiday including Bank Holidays, but the legislation only covers 20 days. Second, not all companies pay company sick pay, so they would be paying Statutory Sick Pay if the employee was eligible and subject to the SSP rules. Third, what about rogue employees who falsely claim they were ill just to have the promise of another week on a beach? And finally, how about other tricky scenarios, like how do you deal with a parent who has a child with an infectious illness and is not allowed to fly. Or the employee who engages in dangerous sports and breaks a limb seemingly at your expense!

To help you navigate this minefield we have put together a couple of tips.

Get a clear sickness absence reporting policy which states that it must be followed in all instances. This will include medical certificates to verify the claim. Of course you need to be mindful that if someone is a long way away, the time they ring in may be a few hours different!

Make it very clear in which circumstances sick pay will be forthcoming, how much holiday may be reclaimed and by when. You could add that the amount of holiday that can be reclaimed is limited to the EU’s 20 days not the full company entitlement.

The HR Dept can help you write a comprehensive and fair policy that will make life easier and clearer for you and your employees. And remember, our HR Toolkit technology can make your life a whole lot easier helping you to keep and maintain clear records to support your decision making.

For more info, visit HR Dept Durham and Darlington.