What Happens if you are Sick on Annual Leave – Can you Claim Holiday Back?

It’s happened to all of us. A long awaited holiday ends up ruined because of illness. You’re left feeling there’s been no benefit from your break. But what happens if you are sick on annual leave? Can you claim the holiday period as sick leave so you can still take a well deserved break later?

sick worker in bed phoning his workplace

Our guide looks at employment law as well as practical considerations when deciding what to do if you are sick on annual leave.


Can You Claim Holiday Back if you’re Sick on Annual Leave?

UK Employment law does allow you to claim holiday back if you are sick on annual leave.

You are entitled to transfer holiday days to a new holiday period when you return to work. If you can’t get leave booked off within your annual holiday year, it can be carried forward.


Check Your Employer’s Sick Policy

If you decide you wish to take sick leave instead of your holiday leave, make sure you follow your employer’s sickness policy.

Failing to follow their procedures means they are entitled to refuse your request. If you are unsure, it may be best to touch base with HR or your manager during your illness. Keeping them aware of your situation might help the process upon your return to work.

Ideally, employers should have clear policies to deal with employees who get sick during annual leave.


Should You Claim Holiday Back?

Whilst you are entitled to claim back holiday time when you’ve been ill, it is important to understand the implications.

How is your employer likely to react to you asking for sick leave to cover all or part of your holiday? If your illness was not very serious, and they could react badly, it may not be worth the repercussions.

If you were seriously ill, there are some other considerations to make before claiming back your holiday allowance.


Check Your Sick Pay Entitlement

If you don’t know your entitlement, check your contract of employment or employee handbook for information on sick pay.

Employers are not obligated to offer paid sick leave at full pay. Statutory sick pay is £99.35 a week. If being paid this amount for your holiday period would cause you financial issues, it may be worth reconsidering.


Would Your Illness Prevent You Working?

If your illness would not prevent you working had it happened during work time, you will not be entitled to claim sick pay.

Let’s look at an injury such as a heavily sprained ankle. Someone working in a warehouse would not be able to work with this injury. Therefore they would be entitled to reclaim their annual leave. However, an office worker performing most duties from a desk, would most likely not be able to claim.

This means that if you couldn’t go on a hiking trip, but you could have still worked, your employer can refuse your request.


Being Asked for Extra Proof of Illness

You may be asked for proof that you were ill during your holiday. Although you can self certify for the first 7 days of any illness, your employer may request more information on what happened.

If your employer has a policy covering employee sickness on annual leave, this is likely to form part of it. It’s important to check the wording of your employment contract. Your employer cannot refuse contractual sick pay in this circumstance if it’s not mentioned in your contract.


Disciplinary Action

If you are being honest with your employer, and circumstances warrant it, there should be no issue in reclaiming holidays.

However, if your employer feels that dishonesty may have been at play, you might be subject to disciplinary action. It’s important to bear this in mind during your illness. If you are able to gather any additional proof to support your claim, it may be prudent to do so.

Further Reading

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