Can I Collect Vacation and Holiday Pay While I’m Receiving Pennsylvania Workers Compensation?
In most cases you cannot collect both Workers Compensation Benefits and vacation or holiday pay. However, if you are represented by a Union and the Union has a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the Employer, you may be able to collect both. You may also be able to collect if you are a non-union employee. The following summary will explain how you may be able to avoid having a credit asserted against your weekly workers’ compensation checks.
Generally, under Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation law, if you are receiving weekly compensation checks, any vacation or holiday pay you may receive is deducted or “credited” against your ongoing compensation. The usual case involves an employee who is off work completely and receiving workers’ compensation. He or she then has to “use or lose” their banked vacation and will take his or her vacation in a lump sum causing the Employer to take a credit against the workers’ compensation wage loss payment. As with most rules; however, there are exceptions. If you are a Union member and your employment is covered by a Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”), the terms of the bargained for contract can control how credits can be taken. If you are a NON Union employee, and your entitlement to holiday pay arises for work performed for a designated period of time BEFORE the holiday, you may be entitled to receive that pay without a credit against ongoing workers’ compensation even if you are NOT a union member.
Many contracts will address an Employees’ eligibility for vacation and holiday pay if they are on Workers’ Compensation. Often the language of the CBA will specify a time frame in which the injured worker will need to be “working” in order to be eligible to collect vacation or holiday pay. For example if a contract requires that an Employee be working within 60 days of the prescheduled vacation to be eligible for both benefits and the Employee is injured 30 days before the vacation, the Employee can probably collect both the Workers Compensation wage loss and the vacation pay. In the case of Salukas v. WCAB (Mack Trucks Inc.) 496 A.2d 425, an Employee receiving Workers’ Compensation challenged the Employer’s credit. In Salukas, the injured worker worked one day within the “qualified period”, in this case one day within the 30 days preceding the holiday. The Court found that the Employer WAS NOT allowed to take a credit for holiday pay received by the injured worker based on the language of the CBA. Many CBA’s will also include language that allows an Employee to be considered an active employee for insurance purposes in the event of a work related accident. In that case, there may be a way to challenge the Employer’s credit for any vacation or holiday pay received during the period the Employee is considered “active” i.e. still considered an employee.
If you are covered by a CBA make sure to check to see if there is language in the contract regarding Workers’ Compensation. If there is, there is a strong likelihood that the CBA will give you greater protections than even the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act will provide. If you are not a Union member, check your employee manual to determine the time frame in which you need to work in order to collect your holiday pay and compensation. If you are unsure of your rights based on the contractual language, you should speak to one of our experienced, Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialists to see if there is a way to collect all of the benefits to which you are entitled.