Death of an employee does not end right to holiday pay


The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that an employee who dies with outstanding holiday pay should be paid this after their death. 

In the case Bollacke v K+K Klass and Kock, the ECJ ruled that the “right to paid annual leave is a particularly important principle of social law and that the right to annual leave and to a payment on that account constitute two aspects of a single right”.

Bollacke worked for the retailer K+K from 1 August 1998 to 19 November 2010.

He became seriously ill in 2009, as a result of which he was unfit to work until the date of his death. On that date, he had 140.5 days of annual leave outstanding.

Bollacke’s widow submitted an application to K+K for an allowance in lieu, which corresponded to the annual leave not taken by her husband.

The employer rejected the application expressing doubts that an inheritable entitlement could exist.

The case was referred by the German Higher Labour Court to the ECJ to decide if a law stops the payment of annual leave in the event of a worker’s death.

The ECJ ruled that the occurrence of the employee’s death must not retroactively lead to a total loss of the entitlement to paid annual leave.

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It also ruled that the allowance does not depend on a prior application by the interested party.

The ECJ rejected the German Higher Labour Court, concluding that the death of an employee did not end the right to paid annual leave.