Renown Stove Co. v. Michigan Unemployment Compensation Commission, 8
|11 September 1950
|44 N.W.2d 1,328 Mich. 436
|RENOWN STOVE CO. v. MICHIGAN UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION COMMISSION.
|Michigan Supreme Court
Louis J. Colombo, Jr., Detroit for appellant.
V. O. Braun and Kenneth B. Kelly, Owosso, for claimants.
Stephen J. Roth, Attorney General, Edmund E. Shepherd, Solicitor General, Lansing, Arthur W. Brown, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.
Zwerdling & Zwerdling, Detroit, for amicus curiam.
Before the Entire Bench.
In April, 1948, plaintiff employer laid off a number of its employees indefinitely for lack of work. The lay-off continued until the latter part of July. Upon being laid off, they began drawing unemployment benefits. On June 21st the employer notified the defendant commission that the employees named in the notice would receive vacation pay, some for one and some for two weeks, depending upon length of service, for a vacation period commencing July 5th, all in accord with the terms of contracts with unions of which employees were members. On June 28th employer issued, and the employees accepted, checks for amounts equivalent to one or two weeks pay respectively. The employer protested to the commission against payment of unemployment benefits to the employees for the one or two week period beginning July 5th. Determinations allowing benefits for that period were affirmed successively by a referee, the appeal board, and, on writ of certiorari, by judgment of the circuit court, from which this is an appeal.
Employer maintains that the employees were not entitled to compensation benefits for said period because of the disqualifying provisions of section 29(1)(d)(2) of the Michigan unemployment compensation act, C.L. 1948, § 421.29(1)(d)(2), Stat.Ann.1949 Cum.Supp. § 17.531(1)(d)(2), as follows:
'(1) An individual shall be disqualified for benefits * * *
'(d) For any week with respect to which he is receiving or has received payments in the form of * * *
'(2) Vacation with pay.'
Employer's contention seems to boil down to this: that during the one or two week period beginning on July 5th the employees did not work for employer and on June 28th received checks in amounts equivalent to what they would have earned during said period had they worked and that, therefore, they did receive payments in the form of vacation with pay with respect to the one or two week period commencing July 5th, disqualifying them from benefits for that period. It is essential to this contention of the employer that it be established that the checks received by employees actually constituted pay with respect to the period which commenced July 5th.
Employees, on the other hand, insist that the checks represented payment of a bonus for services previously rendered and did not amount to payment for the period in question; that the period commencing July 5th was not a vacation period for employees because the mentioned lay-off began several weeks before and continued for some time after said period; that, according to the dictionary, a vacation is a time of relaxation, 'a period of rest between periods of work', and that, therefore, a period of rest preceded and followed by periods during which the individual did not work would not be a vacation; that, at all events, employees were not enjoying a vacation because during the period in question some of them found a few days' work for another employer, while others spent their time seeking other employment, and none of them were able to rest and relax secure in the knowledge that at the end of a fixed vacation period their jobs would be awaiting them at the same old stand.
Recourse to dictionary definitions is unnecessary when the legislative intent in connection with the statutory disqualification here involved may be so readily gathered from a reading of the statute itself. The declared public policy prompting its enactment and the intent and purpose of the act itself are expressed in section 2 thereof, for a discussion of which see our opinion in Dwyer v. Unemployment Comp. Comm., 321 Mich. 178, 188, 32 N.W.2d 434. In brief, the objective sought to be gained is protection against the evils incident to involuntary unemployment and the fostering of social and economic security by the payment of benefits to individuals who have suffered a loss of pay resulting from involuntary unemployment. There is no indication of a legislative intent to provide such benefits to an individual for a period with respect to which he has received pay from his employer, regardless of whether, during that period, he happened to have been working for such employer or to have been on vacation. It was clearly the legislative intent, in enacting the disqualifying provisions of section 29(1)(d)(2), to disqualify an individual from benefits even for a period during which he did not work for his employer, if he received pay from his employer with respect to that period. The act discloses no legislative intent to make such disqualification for the period in question dependent upon whether the individual happened to have been working for the same employer the weeks immediately preceding and following such period, or to render the disqualification inoperative, if, during that selfsame period, the individual performed some other work for another employer, or sought employment elsewhere, or failed to relax because he...
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