Managers have the right to substitute compensation for holidays if company necessities are demonstrated (Il Quotidiano del Lavoro – Il Sole 24 Ore, 15 May 2015)
The case examined by the Labour Section of the Cassation Court, with its ruling no. 8791 of 30 April 2015 is based on the following events. A healthcare director – restricted by contract to not take holidays in the months of August, September and October – submitted an appeal to the Court of Pistoia in order to obtain, consistent with his contract, payment of substitute compensation for holidays not taken. The Court rejected this appeal, so the manager petitioned the competent Appellate Court, which confirmed the ruling of the court of first instance. Specifically, the Appellate Court of Florence pointed out that the agreements between the parties were intended to leave the top manager full autonomy in the decision to determine his holiday period and that the latter, who bore the burden of proof, had not attached and proven the occurrence of exceptional circumstances, unplanned and unpredictable, that had objectively prevented him from taking his holidays. Excluding that in the past the employer had denied holidays or made any objection to taking them, the territorial Court reported that the manager could freely use the remaining nine months of the year for choosing when to take his holidays, with the exception of particular and extraordinary company needs preventing such use. Opposed to such decision, the manager appealed to the Court of Cassation, while the employer challenged by filing a cross-appeal. At the end of the hearing the Supreme Court ruled to reject the appeal, sentencing the petitioner to pay court costs as well. Among the grounds for the appeal the manager cites, specifically, the infringement of article 2109 of the Italian Civil Code and article 36 of the Italian Constitution, for having overlooked that the exclusion of holidays during a certain period is suitable interference to give the right to substitute compensation. In declaring this reason groundless the Cassation, citing previous cases, reiterated that, in employment contracts with public administrations, the mere circumstance of failure to use holidays does not give the right to corresponding economic relief if the employee does not prove that it was caused by exceptional and motivated work requirements or force majeure. The Court with specific regard to the manager’s position, confirms the legal principle already stated with previous rulings, confirming that “the manager who, despite having the power to assign himself a period of holidays without any interference from the employer, by not exercising such power and thus not using the period of annual holiday, he does not have the right to substitute compensation for unused holidays, unless he proves the occurrence of absolutely exceptional and objective company needs preventing such use”.