Appeals from the Orders of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in the cases of In Re: Claims of Robert N. Brounce, No. B-215317; James W. Garsteck, No. B-215321; Francine Carroll, No. B-216607; and Shirley W. Watson, No. B-217016.
James T. Carney, for petitioner.
John Patrick Lydon, Lestitian and Lydon, P.C., for respondents, Carroll, Watson, Brounce and Garsteck.
Judges Williams, Jr., Craig and Colins, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Williams, Jr.
[ 83 Pa. Commw. Page 466]
The United States Steel Corporation (petitioner) petitions for review of the rulings of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) holding that four former employees*fn1 (claimants) had filed valid Applications for Benefits (AB) after the termination of a preceding benefit year*fn2 under Section 4(w)(2)*fn3 of the Act.
The petitioner contends that the Board has misinterpreted Section 4(w)(2) in these cases and the question before us is whether, and to what extent, vacation pay can be used to satisfy the test set forth therein.
Section 4(w)(2) provides:
An application for benefits filed after the termination of a preceding benefit year by an individual shall not be considered a Valid Application for Benefits within the meaning of this subsection, unless such individual has, subsequent to the beginning of such preceding benefit year and prior to the filing of such application worked and earned wages, whether or
[ 83 Pa. Commw. Page 467]
not such work is in "employment" as defined in this act in an amount equal to or in excess of six (6) times his weekly benefit rate in effect during such preceding benefit year. (Emphasis added.)
The instant controversy centers on the meaning of the words emphasized above. The petitioner argues that even though vacation pay may have been received during the period between the dates of the two AB's, it cannot be utilized as "earned wages" under Section 4(w)(2) unless the work from which it was earned was performed during that period. The intervenors, and the Board*fn4 in its rulings, take the position that vacation pay "paid" or "received" in the critical period may be so used, if the claimant has performed some work in that period.
Initially, we note that the petitioner and the intervenors do not disagree that vacation pay can be considered to be "wages"*fn5 for the purposes of Section 4(w)(2) and the Appellate Courts of the Commonwealth have held that, under the Act, vacation pay can be used as wages or remuneration for other unrelated purposes. Buss v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 487 Pa. 610, 410 A.2d 779 (1980) (legislative intent was not to treat vacation pay as remuneration that would negate the status of being "unemployed" under Section 4(u) of the Act, 43 P.S. Section 753(u), but rather to treat accumulated annual vacation pay as merely a ...