From August 1st 2015 Sec. 86 of the Workplace Relations Act entitles workers to accrue annual leave when on long term sick leave. Previously, under Sec.19 of the 1997 Organisation of Working Time Act, employees only accrue annual leave in respect of hours actually worked. However, under the new provisions, employees on sick leave will continue to accrue and retain annual leave for up to 15 months from the end of the leave year in which it was accrued. This entitlement is in respect of statutory annual leave only. The change in Irish legislation is in response to the European Union Court of Justice ruling on accrual of annual leave entitlements and will bring clarity in Irish law when an employee cannot take their paid annual leave due to illness. The amendment to the legislation will have the following effects:
• Statutory annual leave accrues during a period of certified sick leave.
• An annual leave carryover period of 15 months after a leave year will apply to those employees who could not, due to illness take annual leave during the relevant leave year or during the normal carry over period of 6 months.
• On termination of employment, payment in lieu of untaken accrued annual leave will apply to leave which was untaken as a result of illness in circumstances where the employee leaves the employment within a period of 15 months following the end of the leave year during which the statutory leave entitlement accrued. This amendment brings the Organisation of Working Time Act into line with recent rulings of the Court of Justice of the EU.