Employees who are suspended for 30 days or more without pay are considered terminated. If they then receive accumulated sick leave pay, that doesn’t count as wages—and it doesn’t lower their unemployment.
Recent case: Janine was locked out during a labor dispute with her employer, American Crystal Sugar Company Cooperative. She and the other employees were placed on suspension without pay. After 30 days, she received a check for her accumulated sick leave. The co-op wanted that to count as pay, which would have cut a week from her unemployment benefits.
The court refused to go along. It reasoned that after 30 days, employees on unpaid suspension are considered terminated. Any payments of sick or other leave can’t be used against them when calculating the benefit amount. (Bailey v. American Crystal, No. A11-2074, Court of Appeals of Minnesota, 2012)