Are laid-off workers entitled to holiday pay?
If the labor agreement lists no restrictions, does holiday pay accrue to everyone, laid-off workers included? Many arbitrators affirm that “employee status” isn’t altered by layoff if the employee is eligible to recall.
But what is a laid-off worker’s holiday (or vacation) entitlement if the contract specifies “on-the-payroll” eligibility? This question turned into a hassle at an eastern toy manufacturing company whose holiday clause specified the on-the-payroll requirement.
One day Maintenance Manager Marvin Stessin received a call from Tom Polichek, a boiler attendant on layoff, complaining that he hadn’t been paid for Thanksgiving Day.
“You were on layoff at that time,” Stessin replied. “You were off the payroll.”
“Not so,” Polichek insisted. “Layoff doesn’t deprive me of my employee benefits. Laid off or not, I was still on the payroll.”
Stessin disagreed, but promised to check it out and get back to him.
Question : Is Policheck’s claim valid?
Expert’s opinion: Stessin relayed Polichek’s claim to his boss. Plant Engineer Herb Bender frowned in response, then picked up the phone and posed the question to Corporate Attorney Marylin Kohlner.
“It’s true,” the lawyer conceded, “that nothing in the holiday clause excludes laid-off employees specifically. But it does specify an on-the-payroll requirement. So the question at issue is what constitutes on-the-payroll eligibility? The answer to this can be found in the contract’s sick leave clause. This states that workers on layoff are technically “not on the active payroll.” In my opinion, Polichek isn’t entitled to holiday pay.”