Full holiday pay rights must be extended to workers on long-term sick leave, the European Court of Justice has decided in a landmark ruling.
A case had been brought by a group of UK Revenue and Customs staff who were denied their annual holiday because of their enforced absence from work.
But the ruling says: "A worker does not lose his right to paid annual leave which he has been unable to exercise because of sickness. He must be compensated for his annual leave not taken."
It reverses a Court of Appeal decision that such workers may not claim holiday or holiday pay, or compensation for lost holiday if they leave the job after prolonged sickness.
The judgment says: "The entitlement to annual leave ... duly granted cannot be made subject to the obligation actually to have worked in the course of the leave year laid down by a member state.
"The right ... is not to be extinguished at the end of the leave year ... where the worker has been on sick leave for the whole or part of the leave year and where his incapacity to work has persisted until the end of his employment."