HR & Employment Law Insights

Helping family businesses, start-ups, charities, social enterprises, and other growing or established businesses throughout the UK make sense of HR and Employment Law challenges.

We get asked HR related questions every day and each week we share our top question of the week that we have been asked here at The HR Booth.

In this week’s question of the week we answer can employees take holidays when off sick.

Question

I have an employee who is on long-term sick at the moment, are they entitled to use their annual leave?

Answer

If your employee is on long-term sick then they are entitled to use their annual leave during their period of absence.

They may wish to do this in order to receive full pay for that period if they have exhausted all entitlement to sick pay or are receiving statutory sick pay. There is no law to prevent employees from taking annual leave while on sickness, however, they should apply for this leave, in the same way, they would do if they were at work.

It is good practice to agree with the employee's annual leave request to take annual leave during their period of long-term absence, as this avoids them accruing significant amounts of annual leave when they are absent. If they do accrue this leave, then this would mean they are entitled to use these holidays when they return to work.

Whilst the employee is off, you should be ensuring regular contact, which can include meetings, either in the workplace, their home address or mutually convenient venue such as a coffee shop, and you should be discussing what steps if any you can take to facilitate a return to work. You may need to obtain some independent medical guidance via an occupational health specialist, and we can support you with this if required.