EuGH: Urlaubsanspruch endet nicht mit dem Tod

by McDermott Will & Emery
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Mit dem Tod verliert ein Arbeitnehmer nicht seinen Anspruch auf bezahlten Jahresurlaub. Der finanzielle Ausgleich für nicht genommenen Urlaub muss beim Tod des Arbeitnehmers auf dessen Erben übergehen. Dies hat der Europäische Gerichtshof am 12. Juni 2014 entschieden (Az.: C-118/13, Bollacke).

Noch vor drei Jahren hatte das BAG entschieden, dass der Anspruch auf Urlaubsabgeltung nicht vererblich ist (BAG vom 20. September 2011 – 9 AZR 416/10). Nun hat der EuGH klargestellt, dass der ersatzlose Untergang des Anspruchs auf Urlaubsabgeltung im Todesfall nicht mit dem Recht der Europäischen Union vereinbar ist.

Mit seinem Urteil antwortete der EuGH auf eine Anfrage des LAG Hamm. Im vom LAG Hamm zu entscheidenden Fall war der Arbeitnehmer, Ehemann der Klägerin, seit 1998 bei der Beklagten beschäftigt. Wegen Krankheit war er von 2009 an nur noch mit Unterbrechungen arbeitsfähig. Als er im November 2010 verstarb, hatte er insgesamt 140,5 Tage Jahresurlaub angesammelt. Er hatte über Jahre hinweg keinen Urlaub gemacht. Das Ansammeln von Urlaubstagen wurde bei der Beklagten jahrelang praktiziert. Seine Witwe, die Klägerin, verlangte für diesen Urlaubsanspruch einen finanziellen Ausgleich.

Nachdem die Klägerin zunächst vor dem Arbeitsgericht Bocholt keinen Erfolg hatte, legte sie Berufung am LAG Hamm ein. Das LAG Hamm setzte das Verfahren aus und legte den Fall dem EuGH vor, um zu klären, ob das Europarecht den ersatzlosen Wegfall des Anspruchs auf Urlaubsabgeltung im Todesfall, wie im Urteil des BAG vom 20. September 2009, zulasse.

Mit Urteil vom 12. Juni 2014 hat der EuGH nun entschieden, dass die Rechtsprechung des BAG zum ersatzlosen Wegfall des Anspruchs auf Urlaubsabgeltung im Todesfall nicht mit Europarecht vereinbar sei. Zur Begründung berief sich der EuGH im   Wesentlichen darauf, dass der vierwöchige Mindesturlaubsanspruch „ein besonders bedeutsamer Grundsatz des Sozialrechts der Union“ sei. Zum anderen führe die Nichtvererbbarkeit des Abgeltungsanspruchs zum unabwägbaren, weder vom Arbeitnehmer noch vom Arbeitgeber beherrschbaren, vollständigen rückwirkenden Verlust des Anspruchs auf bezahlten Jahresurlaub selbst, wie er in Art. 7 der RL 2003/88 verankert ist.

Zwar vermag die Argumentation des EuGH, die lediglich auf die sozialrechtliche Bedeutung des Mindesturlaubs abzielt, nicht zu erläutern, ob und warum dieser Anspruch im Todesfall auf die Erben übergehen soll. Es bleibt jedoch festzuhalten, dass der EuGH erneut eine BAG-Rechtsprechung kassiert hat. Ansprüche auf Urlaubsabgeltung gehen auf die Erben über. Ob der Arbeitnehmer noch während der Dauer des Arbeitsverhältnisses oder erst nach dessen Beendigung verstirbt, ist für diese Rechtsfolge nicht  entscheidend.

 

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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