Unemployed? Or on vacation?

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Drawing unemployment payments while you’re also drawing vacation pay means you’re earning double pay. It’s double dipping, plain and simple.

The Maine House has, so far, supported a bill sponsored by Speaker Hannah Pingree to permit unemployment benefits to kick in while a recently unemployed worker is also drawing vacation pay from a former employer.

The measure doesn’t allow a worker to draw unemployment pay while still collecting holiday pay, a severance package or other so-called dismissal wages, just while drawing vacation pay.

At a time when the nation’s unemployment pool is being tapped by a great number of out-of-work Americans, this is not the time to skim more from that pool.

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Vacation pay is earned while working, and allows workers to take paid time off from work to vacation, or is paid in a lump sump when an employee leaves a company.

Collecting unemployment pay while still drawing vacation wages post-employment makes about as much sense as collecting unemployment pay while drawing vacation wages on the job.

If a worker is being paid vacation wages owed, they’re not unemployed. They’re being paid earned time. It might just be a week, or it might be several weeks.

For employers who permit vacation time to accrue, it could be a great many weeks of compensation paid post-employment, but if an employee is still earning wages from a company, they are not unemployed until wages are exhausted. They’re not exactly on vacation either, but they’re earning vacation pay at full salary.

Companies throughout the country pay a percentage of employee wages as unemployment tax into a general unemployment fund, a fund that is then used to pay unemployment claims.

Is the Maine House really suggesting that Maine companies ought to be paying unemployment taxes to fund unemployment payments and vacation wages at the same time? Doubling a former employee’s income at a time when so many are struggling without this luxury?

We hope not. The Senate must shoot this bill down, and quash the double dip.

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