Sun, Sea and Salmonella…

It's that time of year've spent the last 3 months starving yourself on 5:2, spent all your cash on beach-appropriate attire and have booked in a spray tan to ensure your white bits don't stand out too much at the beach...then, disaster!

The build up of excitement for a couple of weeks away combined with late nights in the office preparing for your absence takes its toll and illness strikes.

Now I'm all for a bit of an adventure on holiday, but trying to negotiate flights with gastric flu and order antibiotics in a language I've never spoken are not exactly what I had in mind. What’s more, my holiday dates are meticulously planned at the start of each year meaning I can’t just book a couple of extra days either side of my trip to recover.

So what can you do to ensure you don’t miss out on the respite you deserve?

Do not despair - thanks to a string of EU cases all is not lost. Those cases have established that:

  1. If your holiday coincides with a period of illness you have the right to “re-take” the holiday days that were ruined by illness later in the year.
  2. If you aren’t able to accommodate all of your holiday into the holiday year (for example, if your sickness straddles two holiday years) you can carry over the days in question to the following holiday year.

There are some technicalities still in dispute for example whether it is 4 weeks or the entire UK 5.6 weeks holiday that can be carried over.

That’s not to say that employers aren’t rising to the challenge. Expect the implementation of policies which address potential manipulation of the system such as:

  1. Requiring you to report sickness when on holiday;
  2. Requiring you to provide medical evidence of your illness;
  3. Distinguishing between your EU statutory holiday (4 weeks) and the additional holiday granted by our gold plated Working Time Regulation (1.6 weeks); and
  4. Distinguishing between illness or injury which would have made you unable to work and illness or injury which may well have ruined your holiday but would not have stopped you from working.

It looks like beach reading may have to be your employee handbook to ensure that you understand the rules around holiday and sickness.  It might not be the most gripping beachside literature you’ve ever read, but it might just save you losing out on those precious (and well deserved) holiday days.

Polly Rodway is an employment lawyer advising City senior executives and SMEs at Brahams Dutt Badrick French LLP (BDBF)

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