The EU Court of Justice is to rule in a case on whether companies can allow employees’ unused vacation days to lapse without further notice. An opinion suggests the court will rule in favor of employees.
The reason for the EU’s highest court to address the issue of vacation days is a case from Germany. In that case, an employee did not take her full statutory minimum leave, whereupon the company allowed the leave days to lapse. The employee then went to court: she had not been able to take the vacation due to the heavy workload and demanded compensation for the forfeited vacation days. The case was decided by the Düsseldorf Labor Court.
The ruling was in favor of the employee. The court found that the company should have informed her of the relevant deadlines before the vacation days expired. Accordingly, the court awarded the plaintiff compensation for the forfeited vacation days. The opposing party appealed. However, the appeal proceedings were suspended by the Federal Labor Court because it first wanted to ask the European Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling.
Judgement still pending
An opinion of the ECJ now indicates that it shares the assessment of the Düsseldorf Labor Court. For example, Advocate General Richard de la Tour also stated in his opinion that companies must help to ensure that vacation days do not expire – and point out deadlines accordingly.
Although opinions of the ECJ are not legally binding, it can be assumed that the ruling will follow the reasoning of the opinion. This, in turn, would mean a significant strengthening of the employees’ position vis-à-vis the employers. The final ruling is expected in the next few months.