In simple terms, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that sick leave is something that is ‘given to the worker so that he can recover from being ill’, as stated in the ECJ’s judgement in Case C-277/08, Francisco Vicente Pereda v Madrid Movilidad SA, Paragraph 21.
The interaction of sick leave with entitlement to annual leave has been the subject of debate in recent years. In a case in 2009, Pereda v. Madrid Movilidad, the ECJ ruled that a worker who was unfit for work before the commencement of a period of paid annual leave was entitled to take that leave at another time not coinciding with the period of sick leave.
Further clarification was given in June 2012 in judgment C-78/11, in the case of the National Association of Large Distribution Companies (ANGED) versus the Federation of Trade Unions (FASGA) and others. In this case the ECJ ruled that if a worker who was sick and incapacitated for work, and where that incapacity occurred during a period of paid annual leave, the worker had the right to receive future annual leave that corresponded to the period of incapacity for work.