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Practice dilemma: Holiday accrued during sick leave

Our practice manager has just returned to work after a long period of sick leave. She has now asked to take holiday which accrued during her sick leave. Is she entitled to this?

The rules about what happens to holiday whilst an employee is off sick are complicated.

Holiday does continue to accrue during periods of sickness absence. However, this is limited to 'statutory' holiday which is the minimum holiday required in law - currently 5.6 weeks (which is 28 days, inclusive of bank holidays, for someone working 5 full days per week). If your practice provides for more generous holiday entitlements, then this additional contractual holiday does not accrue during sick leave.

Therefore if your practice manager has returned to work in the same holiday year as she has taken sick leave then she remains entitled to any accrued statutory holiday.

If not then any untaken statutory holiday at the end of the holiday year can be carried forward to the next holiday year provided that the reason it has not been taken is due to her sickness absence. This is most likely to apply if she has been off for most, or all, of the previous holiday year.

Having said that, it is unclear whether an employee must request their holiday whilst on sick leave to avoid losing it if the holiday year has ended. Until this issue is resolved in the courts, you could decline to allow the carry over although as a one off, and depending on the circumstances, it may be more prudent to agree to her request and to deal with any subsequent requests by other employees on a case by case basis.

Alison Graham is a healthcare employment lawyer at Veale Wasbrough Vizards.

Alison Graham is a healthcare employment lawyer at Veale Wasbrough Vizards.