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Saturday, June 30, 2012

European workers who get sick while on vacation are entitled to another vacation

Europeans love their vacation time. In fact, when they aren't on vacation, they can usually be found rioting for more paid time off from work. Now, Europe's highest court has decided that workers who get sick while on vacation are legally entitled to take another vacation:
Image source: No-Vacation Nation, by Rebecca Ray and John Schmitt (PDF)
"The purpose of entitlement to paid annual leave is to enable the worker to rest and enjoy a period of relaxation and leisure," the Court of Justice of the European Union, based in Luxembourg, ruled in a case involving department store workers in Spain. "The purpose of entitlement to sick leave is different, since it enables a worker to recover from an illness that has caused him to be unfit for work."

With much of Europe mired in recession, governments struggling to reduce budget deficits and officials trying to combat high unemployment, the ruling is a reminder of just how hard it is to shake up long-established and legally protected labor practices that make it hard to put more people to work and revive sinking economies.

The workers originally won their case in a Spanish court, where they argued that collective bargaining agreements made a distinction between annual leave and sick leave that was recognized by Spanish law. The National Association of Large Distribution Businesses, known as Anged, appealed to the Supreme Court in Madrid, which then asked the Court of Justice for a ruling on how to apply European law covering working times.

The Court of Justice had previously ruled that a person who gets sick before going on vacation is entitled to reschedule the vacation, and on Thursday it said that right extended into the vacation itself.

"The point at which the temporary incapacity arose is irrelevant," the court found.

The ruling applies across the European Union of 27 countries.
No wonder so many European countries are in need of a financial bail-out.

(via Economic Policy Journal)

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