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European court rules that death of an employee does not end right to paid annual leave benefit

Dying for a holiday, but can't fit one in? Not to worry — a new European court ruling says vacation benefits are still valid after death.

The European Court of Justice ruled Thursday in the case of a German man whose widow had claimed, as his heir, that she was due payment for 140.5 days of vacation he had not taken because he was on sick leave and for other reasons.

A German court had thrown out her case, relying on local law stipulating that when the employee dies, the employment contract is terminated.

But the Luxembourg-based appeals court said European law supersedes national legislation and dictates that "the unintended occurrence of the worker's death must not retroactively lead to a total loss of the entitlement to paid annual leave."