Cancellation of holidays: surprising decision of the Court of Appeal!

In the area of paid leave, a surprising decision has just been rendered by the Court of Appeal on  November 19, 2020.  Indeed, in a dispute arising from a dismissal, the Court partially dismissed an employee’s claim for payment of the balance of untaken leave.

The employee had taken leave which was accepted by the employer, but the employee finally decided to cancel his leave unilaterally: this unilateral cancellation was refused by the employer.

Due to the uncertainty of his situation, the employee had decided to work the days off  initially taken, “for fear of losing his job”.

The judge ruled in favour of the employer and established a questionable principle according to which, once leave has been requested and accepted by the employer, the employee cannot unilaterally renounce it.

For the ALEBA, no legal provision supports this reasoning, and the Court of Appeal does not cite any text in support of its argument.  This decision is all the more surprising given that the basic principle of annual leave is that it is “fixed according to the employee’s wishes“.  The law only allows the employer to refuse “for the needs of the service and the justified wishes of other employees in the company“, which does not seem to be reasonably acceptable grounds for opposing… the cancellation of his leave by the employee!

ALEBA also notes that, in another case, the Court had already specified that the employer could not unilaterally cancel leave that he had previously accepted!

ALEBA therefore does not understand the ruling, which furthermore reinforces the employer’s power over leave beyond what the law already provides, and will defend its members and employees who may be victims of this type of situation.