The right to paid annual leave of a worker who has been absent for health reasons (whatever they may be) cannot be dependent on having accomplished a minimum period of actual work, according to the EU Court of Justice (ECJ). In a 24 January ruling (Case C-282/10), the Luxembourg judges said that this practice, applied in France, was contrary to Directive 2003/88/EC concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time.

Following a work-related accident on her journey to work, in 2005, Maribel Dominguez was on sick leave for just over a year. Dominguez brought a claim before the French courts for 22.5 days' paid leave in respect of that period, which her employer, the Centre informatique du Centre Ouest Atlantique (CICOA), refused to grant her and, in the alternative, compensation in the region of 1,970. Indeed, the French rules make entitlement to paid annual leave conditional on an employee having worked a minimum of ten days (or, up until February 2008, one month) for the same employer during the reference period (normally one year).

Questioned by the French Court of Cassation on the compatibility of the French rules with EU law and how to consider an accident on the work, to or from work, the ECJ recalls that entitlement to paid annual leave must be considered a principle of social law of the EU, which cannot be derogated from.

Although member states may lay down conditions for the exercise and implementation of the right to paid annual leave, the ECJ asserts that they are not entitled to make it subject to any preconditions whatsoever or to exclude the very existence of that right, which is expressly granted to all workers.

Moreover, the court confirms that the directive does not make any...

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