Important change to the law on the accrual of annual leave during sick leave

As of 1 August, section 86 of the Workplace Relations Act 2015 has been commenced, which amends the provisions of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 pertaining to the accrual of annual leave during sick leave.

In summary, the implications of the new provisions are that if an employee is absent on sick leave (but has provided a medical certificate), that day will be deemed to be a day at which he/she was at work for the purposes of accruing annual leave. In respect of an employee who is on long term sick leave, and due to illness, cannot take any/part of his/her annual leave during the leave year, or within six months thereafter (and assuming that the employer has been given a medical certificate in respect of that illness), then the leave must be taken within 15 months after the end of that leave year.  This only applies to statutory annual leave, so employers should make it clear to employees that they will not accrue any additional contractual annual leave while on sick leave.

Any calculation of this leave only needs to be done when the sick leave (or the employment) terminates, and the most an employer would have to include in the calculation would be accrued leave from the current leave year, from the previous leave year, and potentially from the year before that, if the 15 month period from the end of that leave year hasn’t yet expired. Therefore, in practice, the most that an employee could have accumulated on top of the current leave year entitlement is two years’ statutory annual leave.

This amendment to the law is not retrospective, so that for employees currently on long term sick leave, statutory annual leave will only accrue from 1 August 2015.

Please click here to access Síobhra’s previous article ‘Sick of Annual Leave‘.

For more information please contact Síobhra Rush or Linda Hynes.


This publication is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal or professional advice. No liability is accepted by Ogier Leman for any action taken or not taken in reliance on the information set out in this publication. Professional or legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this publication. Any and all information is subject to change. 

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