Monday, December 21, 2015

UC - voluntary quit - late payment of wages


Jacobs v. UCBR – Cmwlth. Court – 12-21-15

 


 

Held:  Claimant had good cause to quit his job because of Employer’s failure to pay him in a timely manner, which resulted in his financial hardship and, consequently, caused transportation issues.

 

Where an employee terminates an employment relationship because of the employer’s repeated failure to pay wages in a timely manner and on an established pay day, Pennsylvania’s Wage Payment and Collection Law[5] is implicated. Section 4 of the Wage Payment and Collection Law generally provides:

 

It shall be the duty of every employer to notify his employes at the time of hiring of the time and place of payment and the rate of pay and the amount of any fringe benefits or wage supplements to be paid to the employe . . . or . . . for the benefit of the employe[]. . . .

43 P.S. § 260.4. Moreover, Section 3 of the Wage Payment and Collection Law is absolutely explicit in its statement that: ‘Every employer shall pay all wages . . . due to his employes on regular paydays designated in advance by the employer.’ 43 P.S. § 260.3. Thus, employees are well within their rights to demand timely payment for work performed. Indeed, payment as agreed for services rendered is the very essence of an employment relationship, such that no employee can be compelled to work without payment.

 

Accordingly:

 

This Court has held that several instances of tardy wage payments resulting in employee protest and refusal by the employer to guarantee timely payment of wages as demanded by the employee can constitute necessitous and compelling cause for that termination.  Warwick v. Unemployment Comp. Bd. of Review, 700 A.2d 594, 597 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1997) (citation omitted).

. . . .

This Court’s opinion in Warwick indicates, without examination of the Wage Payment and Collection Law, that claimants must request a guarantee of adherence to a rigid payment schedule after protesting tardy payments in order to retain eligibility for unemployment compensation. See Warwick, 700 A.2d at 597 (citing Koman v. Unemployment Comp. Bd. of Review, . . . 435 A.2d 277 ([Pa. Cmwlth.] 1981)). Given that the Wage Payment and Collection Law already requires adherence to a rigid payment schedule, we hold that it is sufficient for employees to complain of late payments, so long as the employer is afforded a reasonable opportunity to address the employee’s complaints.  Clearly, failure to make timely payment for services rendered creates a real and substantial pressure upon an employee to terminate employment. Without question, repeat occurrences would cause a reasonable person to terminate employment.

 

Shupp v. Unemployment Comp. Bd. of Review, 18 A.3d 462, 464-65 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2011) (emphasis added).

 

The record evidence in the instant case established that Employer failed to timely pay Claimant for his services. Claimant twice notified Employer and accepted non-payroll checks in an effort to preserve his employment. It was not until Employer notified Claimant that he would have to wait yet another 30 days for his pay that Claimant voluntarily quit. Accordingly, under the specific circumstances of this case, the UCBR erred as a matter of law by concluding that Claimant voluntarily quit his employment without a necessitous and compelling reason.

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