European Court Says Getting Sick On Vacation Means You Get A Do-Over

Okay, that’s it. We’re moving to Europe: They’re already entitled to four to six weeks of guaranteed vacation leave per year, and now a court there just ruled that workers who happen to fall ill while on vacation are legally entitled to get a do-over on their trip. Who needs tips about how to not get sick on vacation with a loophole like that?

The decision came about after department store workers in Spain brought a case to Spanish court, where they won, arguing that collective bargaining agreements distinguish a clear line between annual leave and sick leave.

The National Association of Large Distribution Businesses then appealed to the Supreme Court in Madrid, which then handed the matter over to Europe’s highest court, says the New York Times.

“The purpose of entitlement to paid annual leave is to enable the worker to rest and enjoy a period of relaxation and leisure,” the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled. “The purpose of entitlement to sick leave is different, since it enables a worker to recover from an illness that has caused him to be unfit for work.”

A previous ruling had held that a sick person could reschedule a trip if they got sick right before it, but has now extended that provision to the vacation itself, saying, “The point at which the temporary incapacity arose is irrelevant.”

All 27 countries in the European Union will be held to the court’s decision. That means 27 potential future homes. Adios, America!

On Vacation and Sick? A Court Says Take Another [New York Times]


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  1. homehome says:

    That continent is getting real soft lol.

  2. Rebecca K-S says:

    That’s just… completely fucking ridiculous.

  3. Bunnies Attack! says:

    Meh… misleading… they still use days, just depends whether its sick days or vacation days. Unless they get unlimited sick days (which they might…) its no different than here where people lie that they’re sick to take a vacation. Whether it comes out of one pocket or another pocket is somewhat irrelevant.

    • bluline says:

      Where I work, it all comes out of a bucket called paid time off, or PTO. You get 18 days a year to start. If you want to take some vacation days, they come out of your PTO. Got some personal business you need to take care of or a sick kid who needs your attention? That’s a PTO day. And if you yourself are sick, that’s also PTO.

      The system works well in discouraging people from taking a sick day when they really aren’t sick, but it also encourages those who truly are sick to work when they are ill (and spread their illness to others) because they don’t want to lose a vacation day.

      • AustinTXProgrammer says:

        We had that, now I have vacation days and sick days. Sick days are only good when I’m sick. When it’s my wife (she cares for kids) then I have to take vacation days. But I have about 20 a year and unlimited sick and will leave vacation on the table anyways.

  4. absherlock says:

    If I get sick on the weekend, do I get another Saturday?

  5. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Makes perfect sense to me (given their legal system for vacation), but I do wonder how far this will extend. What if you fall ill mid-vacation? Is half returned, all of it?

    I sense a lot of flack against Europe is about to befall the comments. Which is sad, because it’s a benefit I think most Americans wish they had. So instead of applauding them, we criticize them. Even though internally we’re jealous.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      I absolutely applaud them. Americans are incredibly overworked due to the greed of business owners. Europeans have been labeled as lazy in order to create a disconnection from that so we will feel like we need to work all of the time.

      • Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

        America’s still pretty laid-back compared to Asia. Last I’ve heard Manila has 9-hour work days, and India has (or will be?) increasing theirs to 10 hours. I was lucky to get out of the workforce while it was still 8 hours — not to mention I worked on a project that mandated us to work AT LEAST 11 hours a day, for 6 months, including weekends & public holidays (that was the most insane time of my work life). I racked up to 4-digit overtime pay during that time, and avoided McDonalds for a year after the whole ordeal (since McDonalds was the only 24-hr food place within the immediate vicinity at that time). A lot of us get home from work at about 1-2AM, so for convenience they provided a nearby apartment where all 20 of us can squeeze in whenever we end up working late. Yet we still have to be in before 9AM the next day.

        Even then, when I had to charge overtime hours, or even announce a planned time-off, I will be interrogated like a criminal before they grant me that (it’s all about the “chargeability”). It was nuts.

      • rugman11 says:

        We may be overworked, but most of the research has shown that Americans have traded leisure for wealth. We take less vacation, but our net income is higher.

      • lionpaul says:

        Lol. Greed of businsess owners? If you want to work 35 hours a week, get a part-time job serving fast food and don’t expect more than a subsistence wage for your subsistence work. The people who invent the things that make our lives worthwhile, discover cures for our diseases, and create the companies that employ us don’t count their hours. I work 60 hours a week and have a great lifestyle. My friends in i-banking who work 100 hours a week with 1 week of vacation a year, now they have it tough.
        There’s a reason that Europe is collapsing while China is thriving.

        • darcmosch says:

          Yes, they take from the poor and give to the rich. They have no money and leisure time. I see so many people rooting around in the trash trying to find bottles and cardboard to recycle because they have no money to eat.

          During the BJ Olympics, they kicked tons of families out of their beautiful homes and promised them everything under the sun. After they got them out, they gave them close to jack shit.

          Ya, they’re thriving, the few lucky enough to get decent jobs.

      • Akuma Matata says:

        Oh yes, that damn greed. We should just ban it. /s

    • rmorin says:

      Which is sad, because it’s a benefit I think most Americans wish they had.

      Yeah and I wish I made X100 times what I currently make. But I don’t exist in a vacuum, do you Loais? If you increased my salary and everyone else that has my job by 100 times it would have an effect greater then just making us wealthy.

      The economics and overall employee well being of PTO (paid time off) regardless of how you divide it up are complex, so I am not arguing against any particular PTO system. But your logic of “but other people have it!!” is juvenile, and poorly thought out.

      • smo0 says:

        Not really. Jealous factor runs high with people no matter where you’re from.

        People want what the other guy has.

        Also, there are studies that prove more money doesn’t make you happier – in fact, some Americans don’t get vacation time at all – the ones that do get it need to manage it preciously because it can be used in lieu of getting sick.

        At my last job, if had had no “PTO” as you put it, we would start snapping up our vacation time.

        I know few people who actually went out of work for more than a week at a time. The majority had their time used up throughout the year.
        I wouldn’t call that a vacation, would you?

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        It IS juvenile, but it’s also true. Newsflash: Humans are juvenile.

        Such vacation benefits would definitely require an adjustment to American business and society, but I don’t think it will be as damaging as you think. It might even be an improvement – certainly from a mental health perspective.

  6. Upthewazzu says:

    Is it any wonder that Spain is one of the handful of European countries teetering on the brink of collapse?

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Yeah, THIS was the linchpin of the entire debt crisis.

      • Upthewazzu says:

        linchpin, no. Factor, yes. But you already knew that.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          You realize the U.S. isn’t is much of a better shape right now?

          And you strategically forgot to mention Germany, which is doing great.

          • TheMansfieldMauler says:

            You realize the U.S. isn’t is much of a better shape right now?

            Right. And we were promised it would be. Promised over and over. Hope. Change. Open and Honest Government. Etc. etc. etc.

            Now all we get is excuses as to why the US isn’t in better shape. It was Bush. It was Europe. It was Japanese earthquakes. It was global warming. It was banks. It was rich people. It was racists and bigots. It was lack of taxing people dry. It was anyone and anything – but whatever it was, it wasn’t the people who made those promises. Nosiree, not them. It certainly wasn’t them.

            And now they’ll be more than happy to make the same promises again!

            • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

              Psst. Things are improving. You don’t dig yourself out of a mile-deep pile of shit overnight.

              Try a less Fox and more facts.

    • longfeltwant says:

      Yeah, that’s why even the liberal-for-American NYT put this at the end of the article:

      “The ruling does not apply to the 25 percent of the Spanish labor force that is currently unemployed.”

      Oooooh! Burn!

  7. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    And just like that, the price of everything in Europe increases.

    “Hello [cough cough]? Yeah I’m sitting on the beach [cough] but it’s no fun at all [cough cough]. Please count this as a sick day and extend my [cough cough] vacation. Thanks [cough], bye.”

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      You beat me to it!

    • HogwartsProfessor says:


      I would imagine they need a doctor’s note to make them eligible for it. I’m guessing this is for more than just a minor sniffle.

  8. HogwartsProfessor says:

    *starts packing*

  9. BennieHannah says:

    What are sick days and vacation days? People still get those?

    I’ve never worked at a place that offered sick days or vacation days. If you were sick and needed a paycheck you worked anyway, and if you were sick and needed to stay home you called upon another employee to cover your shift, and if you needed a vacation you had to schedule time off at least two weeks in advance — before the schedule was made — and you had to find other employees to cover your shifts. Luckily, every place I worked included a wonderful, supportive staff and tolerant owners who were themselves employees, so it wasn’t normally a big deal. Now I work from home. I’m happy to be off shift work, but I do miss all of the social interaction.

  10. lionpaul says:

    The European periphery is in complete collapse. The only reason Greece, Spain, and Itay aren’t currently in deep depressions with civil unrest is because they’re being bailed out by Germany. The US is in a mild recession. Yea, I’d say we’re in much better shape.

    As for Germany – they work harder and have a more meritocratic system than most of their European peers, but the there are also other social and societal differences like a homogenous society, a long history of quality education, and a lean bureaucracy.

  11. yossi says:


    Sure, they have it so great with the required three week vacation time right? Pack your bags, but while you are packing do the math on how much smaller your pay check wil lbe since the income tax there is 40-50% and thats before other deductions. Oh yeah, they have it so grea there. Mandatory vacation to spend their teeny, tiny paycheck on a teeny , tiny bikini

    • nolookingca says:

      You’re forgetting that they also don’t have America’s exorbitant healthcare and education costs. What percentage of their fat, non- (well, less) taxed salaries do Americans spend on those costs?

  12. RandomHookup says:

    Actually, it could easily happen here. If you fall sick — need to see the doctor sick — you could just use your sick leave, especially if you end up in the hospital. Same rules would apply as when you are taking regular sick time. Subject to misuse, but it’s all sick leave subject to misuse if you don’t require a doctor’s note on any sick leave day.

  13. Chrome82 says:

    Here’s how it works: You do have unlimited sick leave, but it has to be certified by a doctor. And it can’t be a private doctor you’re paying yourself, it has to be a Social Security doctor. Since Social Security is who will pay your salary during sick leave, you won’t get a paid medical leave for nonsense reasons or just for *saying* you’re sick: there has to be a real illness that makes you unfit to work. Also, you obviously can’t travel while on sick leave.

    And yes, 35% of our paychecks go to Social Security and we also have to pay taxes. But we have unlimited sick leave, 4 weeks vacation each year, medical expenses covered and a pension when we get to 67 years old. I like it much better than dying because I can’t afford treatment. And, being from a middle-class family I paid 600€/year for my university education; poorer people paid nothing, and there isn’t such a thing as student debt. So I’d rather stay here with my meager paycheck than go to a country with the American everything-for-profit system.