Dead worker has right to paid leave, EU court says


The European Court of Justice is the highest court in the EU. [Shutterstock]

The European Court of Justice has ruled that in the event of a worker’s death, national legislation which precludes the payment of annual paid leave is against EU law.

Every worker is entitled to paid annual leave of at least four weeks and the period of leave may not be replaced by an allowance in lieu, unless the employment relationship ends, the Court says, referring to the Working Time Directive.

The European Court of Justice is the highest court in the European Union in matters of European Union law.

The ruling comes following a suit by the widow of Mr Bollacke (no first name given), a German worker who was employed by the retailer K+K from 1 August 1998 until 19 November 2010, the date of his death.

Bollacke had been seriously ill since 2009 as a result of which he was unfit to work until the date of his death. On that date, Bollacke had accumulated 140.5 days of annual leave outstanding and his widow widow submitted an application to K+K for an allowance in lieu which corresponded to the annual leave not taken by her husband which K+K rejected.

On Thursday (12 June), the EU Court of Justice stated that the right to paid annual leave is a particularly important principle of social law, noting that the expression ‘paid annual leave’ means that, for the duration of annual leave, the worker’s remuneration must be maintained.

“The unintended occurrence of the worker’s death must not retroactively lead to a total loss of the entitlement to paid annual leave. Consequently, the Court rules that EU law precludes national legislation or practice which provide that, where the employment relationship is terminated by the death of the worker, the entitlement to paid annual leave is lost without conferring entitlement to an allowance in lieu of leave outstanding,” the Court said in a statement.

Over half of Europeans (53%) say that working conditions are good, according to a new survey by Eurobarometer covering the 28 member states.

At the same time, almost 60% say their working conditions have deteriorated in the last 5 years. 27% say conditions have stayed the same, while 12% think they have improved. But 77% of the respondents still say that they are 'satisfied' with their current working conditions, though these have deteriorated in the last five years, according to almost 60% of the workers.

Working conditions were defined in the survey as working time, work organisation, health and safety at work, employee representation and relation with the employer.

Subscribe to our newsletters


Want to know what's going on in the EU Capitals daily? Subscribe now to our new 9am newsletter.