Wages: Vacation and Sick Leave

Briese v. Ace American Ins. Co. [02/20/09] 2009 MTWCC 5 Where Petitioner accrued vacation pay prior to his injury that was paid post-injury, the definition of “wages” found in § 39-71-123, MCA, excludes vacation benefits not paid prior to the injury.

Williams v. State Fund [2/1/96] 1996 MTWCC 10 For purposes of determining whether an injured worker can receive TTD while also receiving sick leave donated by co-workers, the WCC begins with section 39-71-116(19), MCA (1985). "Wages" encompasses sick leave earned by the injured employee but not sick leave donated by co-workers. Donated sick leave amounts to a gift and does not prevent the employee from simultaneously receiving TTD benefits. Cf. Milender v. John Carpenter, 230 Mont. 1, 748 P.2d 932 (1987) (wages paid by an employer to an injured worker who is not able to work are deemed gratuitous payments and not wages within the WCA.)

Stermitz v. State Compensation Ins. Fund [01/12/95] 1995 MTWCC 1 Under sections 39-71-116(19) and (20), MCA (1985), public employee is not entitled to temporary total disability benefits for paid days off work, whether taken as sick leave or vacation. Where claimant was advised that he could collect temporary total disability benefits, but chose to use sick leave and vacation, this is not a case where the insurer’s denial of benefits gave claimant no alternative but to use other forms of paid leave. Cf. 44 Op. Att’y Gen. No. 33 (1992), where Attorney General concluded that if annual leave benefits are being paid, there is no total loss of wages to render an employee eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.