Real Life

Entitlement to sick leave while on annual leave from work

What happens if you fall sick while on holiday from work?

Is it correct that if you fall sick during annual leave you are entitled to call those days “sick days” and add on extra time to your annual leave entitlement? This happened to me last year and I assumed it was bad luck. But recently I heard I could have claimed those days as sick leave and extended my holidays. Could I claim on them now?

Gosh, I would have never thought about that either but I have made some enquiries. If employees fall sick on annual holidays, they can ask their employer if they can treat those days as sick leave rather than annual holidays. But as it stands at present, it’s up to the employer to decide whether to allow you to treat those days as sick leave. So I guess it comes down to the generosity of your employer. Because employers have the discretion in this issue, they can place certain requirements around your claim. For example, they may want proof of illness. So if you didn’t go to the doctor at the time, you may be out of luck. If you did, I’m sure your doctor will be happy to provide proof of your visit even though it was last year.

The issue of whether you can roll over leave from one year to the next is a separate matter and will depend on the employment policy of your employer. Recently, the European Court of Justice found that workers who fall sick during annual leave should be allowed to take their holidays again, even if it means carrying that leave over to the next year. Of course, that finding doesn’t affect workers in this country and it still has to be tested in court in Europe. But it does show there’s a tendency to take the employee’s position. So give it a crack. Apply for the sick leave and good luck.

Do you have a consumer question for Kevin? Email [email protected], or post to Weekly Consumer, PO Box 90119, Victoria St West, Auckland 1142.

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