The European Court of Justice (ECJ) passed a ruling in the case of Bollacke v K+K Klaas & Kock that enables executors claim unpaid annual leave from the deceased's employers.

Mrs Bollacke as executrix of her husband Mr Bollacke brought an action against his employers for unpaid statutory annual leave claiming 140.5 days of holidays he did not take and therefore sought payment in lieu.The German court refused her claim and she appealed.

The ECJ was referred the matter and was asked to consider the appeal in light of the Working Time Directive 2003/88/EC, which grants employees 4 weeks holiday each year and states that workers that leave employment are entitled to payment in lieu under Article 7.

The ECJ in interpreting the Directive held that any outstanding annual leave remained intact if death was the reason for terminating employment. Mrs Bollacke was therefore entitled to claim on part of her husband all his untaken statutory annual leave at the time of his death and the employer’s obligation to the deceased employee had to be discharged.  

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