Leeds NHS worker wins case over paid holidays

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A LEEDS health worker has won a landmark legal case over her entitlement to paid holidays while off sick.

The Court of Appeal has ruled that part-time NHS Leeds clerical worker Janet Larner could still have paid leave during a year when she was off ill.

Mrs Larner had previously won her case at an Employment Tribunal and an Employment Appeal Tribunal.

In the judgment, Lord Justice Mummery said: “The law in the claimant’s case is certain and clear.”

Mrs Larner, from Leeds, started employment with NHS Leeds in 2000 as a clerical officer, working 20 hours a week. Early in 2009, she went on sick leave, later being diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and depression.

She had no holidays already arranged and took no leave while off sick, saying in her evidence that she was “too ill to do so”.

In April 2010 she was dismissed by NHS Leeds and was paid in lieu of notice and outstanding leave, but this did not include compensation for her untaken holiday for the previous year.

NHS Leeds argued she had not made a request to take the holiday or to carry it forward to the next year so she was not entitled to payment for it.

However lawyers successfully argued that she could take the leave forward without making a request to do so.

Barrie Brown, national officer for health for the union Unite, said: “Even though the sum involved in this case is less than £1,000, it shows that employers, not just in the NHS, can’t deduct holiday pay from sick employees in this fashion. The Court of Appeal ruling upholds an important principle and draws a line in the sand for other employers thinking along these lines.”

A spokesman for NHS Leeds said they could not comment the specifics of the case but added: “However, we do acknowledge the decision of the Court of Appeal and as a result we will undertake a review of our employment policies and procedures.”

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