NAPE member Stacy Fratt was on her way to work at the DHHS Fremont Customer Service Center on July 5 when she had car trouble. She contacted her supervisor right away to let her know that she would be late, and might not possibly be able to get to work at all. Stacy ended up not being able to make it to work after her car needed to be towed to LaVista. She had 6.7 hours of vacation time to use, but was placed in unpaid status for 1.3 hours.
DHHS refused to excuse the 1.3 hour absence, and then decided to withhold Stacy’s holiday pay for July 4. DHHS argued that because it would not approve the 1.3 hour absence, it could withhold holiday pay because state law requires state employees to be in paid status for the entire day the day before and the day after a state holiday.
NAPE filed a grievance on Stacy’s behalf. NAPE argued that the law does not require employees to be in paid status for the entire day, just that they have to be in paid status. Because Stacy used 6.7 hours of vacation leave, NAPE argued that she qualified for holiday because she was in a paid status the day after July 4.
The case proceeded through the grievance process all the way to the State Personnel Board. The Board appointed Terri Weeks as Hearing Officer, and a hearing was held on November 14, 2019. The Hearing Officer made a recommendation to the State Personnel Board to affirm the denial of holiday pay. It was her interpretation that the statute requires that employees must be in paid status for the entire day before and after a holiday.
The State Personnel Board met on January 30, 2020 to consider the hearing officer’s recommendation. The five member board voted unanimously to reject the hearing officer’s recommendation, and ruled in Stacy’s favor. The Board said that the statute does not say that the employee must be in paid status for the entire day, just some part of the day. The Board ordered that Stacy receive holiday pay for July 4.
This decision affects all state employees. If you use sick or vacation leave the day before or after a paid holiday, you are entitled to be paid for the holiday. If your agency withholds holiday pay, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for assistance.