On 6/21/12 the Court of Justice of the European Union handed down a ruling on a labor law case involving department store workers in Spain.
The workers originally won their case in a Spanish court. The National Association of Large Distribution Businesses 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 decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union is explained in a 2 page press release at this link:
In summary the decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union is that any employee who becomes ill while on vacation will later be entitled to additional time off for the sick days that occurred during the vacation period. The exact language from the press release is as follows:
A worker who becomes unfit for work during his paid annual leave is entitled at a later point in time to a period of leave of the same duration as that of his sick leave.
That right exists irrespective of the point at which the incapacity for work arose.
Another passage of interest from the press release:
The Court points out that, according to settled case-law, entitlement to paid annual leave must be regarded as a particularly important principle of EU social law, a principle expressly enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. The right to paid annual leave cannot be interpreted restrictively.
Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.
Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Ronald Reagan’s Ambassador to the U.N., once said the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was like “a letter to Santa Claus”.
It is unfortunate that the Court of Justice of the European Union was not able to find a way to apply this sick day policy to the 25% of Spanish workers who are unemployed.