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Employees to get extra time off in the event of illness while on holiday

European law to come into effect in October, sparking fears that small businesses will be unable to cope with the extra cost

Employees will have a legal right to extra time off work if they become ill while on holiday leave, it emerged on Friday.

Regulations due to come in under European law will also protect time off for staff on maternity and paternity leave.

If workers are struck down by sickness during annual leave, employers will be obliged to give them the extra time off if they produce a sick note, according to the Daily Telegraph.

The changes, which mean workers are guaranteed at least four weeks of holiday a year, will take effect in October and are expected to cost businesses more than £100m a year, it said.

Many companies already operate such a policy, but the changes will come into force for all from October, which will spark fears about the burden that will be placed on smaller firms.

Guy Bailey, the head of employment and employee relations at the CBI, told the Telegraph: “While active discussions are ongoing in Brussels on the future of the working time directive, it may make sense for the UK government to pause before implementing the latest European court of justice rulings. Introducing a set of changes in October that immediately have to be reviewed and replaced would not be a good outcome.”

A Department for Business, Innovation and Skills spokesman said: “Our position remains that we anticipate introducing secondary legislation in 2012, nothing has changed.

“As previously stated, changes to the working time regulations need to be made because of European court rulings, however government will do all it can to minimise the burden on business.” © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds