Saturday, January 21, 2006

UC- partial benefits - actual earnings v. potential earnings

Jehrio v. UCBR, Commonwealth Court, January 20, 2006

This case involves one week, during which the claimant (CL) -- a full-time banquet server -- worked one day, took one day vacation, and no work was available for 5 days. The Board held that the CL was entitled to partial benefits, 43 P.S. sec. 753(u), less her potential earnings on the vacation day, pursuant to UC regs, 35 Pa. Code sec. 65.71

The Court reversed, holding that the regulation and the Board's decision were in conflict with the statute, 43 P.S. 804(d)(1, which directs that partial benefits be reduced by a claimant's actual earnings on the vacation day -- in this case, her vacation pay ($52), which was considerably less that her potential earnings ($218.50 -- hourly wage plus tips), had she worked that day.

Noting the remedial nature of the UC law, the court held that "[i]f the Employer affords employees vacation days, and pays for those vacation days, it would be unfair to penalize those employees and require them to report potential earnings for a day that the Employer agreed they did not have to work. If Employer prevailed, employees could never request a vacation day if work was available to them without being penalized because they would always be required to deduct their potential earnings for the day rather than the vacation pay employer actually paid them."

Donald Marritz
MidPenn Legal Services