What would you do if an employee returns from annual leave and announces they were unwell for most of it so they want it to be considered as sick leave rather than annual leave?

Employees often think that all they have to do is tell their employer they were sick during their holiday and in doing so they can count the time as sickness absence, even if they were not in the country at the time.

Although it is true that employees may have this right, it is not an automatic right.  As it currently stands, an employee who becomes sick (or is injured) whilst on annual leave is entitled to discontinue their holiday and re-take their annual leave at a later date.

To qualify to have the annual leave reimbursed, the employee needs to comply with the following:-

  • Employees should fully comply with the sickness reporting procedure as detailed in your handbook and / or contract of employment. It is recommended that employees are never permitted to report absence by email or text. If an employee is genuinely unable to call themselves, someone should do it on their behalf.
  • In addition to complying with your reporting procedure, you can insist they provide medical evidence of their incapacity. Where an employee is abroad, this can be in the form of a letter from a local doctor.

Where an employee fails to report their sickness properly and / or where no medical evidence is produced, you can refuse to reimburse the holiday.

Angie.  You can contact Angie Dansey at

If you need guidance or advice with your HR requirements, please call Practical HR on

01702 216573 or email Angie on the above.

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