NAPE member Jennifier Myers is a six year veteran DHHS Social Services Worker assigned to the Broken Bow local office. Jennifier reached out to the NAPE office in November because DHHS would not allow her to use vacation leave in order to be paid while on FMLA leave, because it considered her leave “unplanned.” The FMLA and our contract allow employees to use earned leave so that their FMLA protected absences are paid. The FMLA does not distinguish planned vs. unplanned leave.
NAPE filed a grievance on Jennifier’s behalf and prevailed. Jennifier was able to use her earned vacation leave while on FMLA leave. DHHS, however, was not done denying Jennifier her benefits. DHHS did not pay Jennifier holiday pay for New Year’s Day, nor for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, arguing that she wasn’t in full paid status on both days. Jennifier grieved each time and won both of those grievances too!
If a state employee is in paid status for any part of the days before and after a holiday they are entitled to holiday pay. DHHS had interpreted the state statute very narrowly to mean that an employee must be in paid status for the entire day before and after a holiday. If an employee was in Leave Without Pay status for any time on the day before or the day after a holiday, DHHS denied holiday pay. Everyone should carefully check their paycheck to make sure they are receiving their holiday pay. If not, contact your local steward or the NAPE office right away!