When To Classify Employee Annual Leave As Sick Leave

An employee, who is just about to go on a 2 week pre-booked holiday, hands in a sick note to their employer saying they are unfit to work for 2 weeks. In spite of the sick note, the employee still intends to go on holiday. In such circumstances, should the employer treat the 2 week holiday as annual leave or should the employee be regarded as being on sick leave for that 2 week period?

The answer is that any planned holiday should not be lost due to sickness or ill health. The reason for that is that annual leave is viewed by the Courts as a period of rest for an employee, not a time for them to recover from whatever ill health has led to them being signed off work  in the first place. Therefore, the employee’s 2 week holiday should be re-credited and that period of time re-classed as sick leave, provided that the employer’s sickness reporting scheme has been observed by the employee.

An employer has to take the ill-health information provided to them by the employee at face value unless the holiday is completely at odds with what the employee is saying about their well-being e.g. an employee signed off work with a leg injury going on a skiing holiday would give rise to questions being asked; those questions should however be put to the employee on their return to work and not before.

In summary, where an employee is signed off work over a pre-booked period of holiday, that period of time should be classed as sick leave with the holiday being added back to the employee’s annual entitlement.

If you have any employment issues you would like to discuss, please contact Alan Davidson on: 01756 692 869.

Alan Davidson
Partner, Employment Law