Average Weekly Wage
One of the most important factors in determining benefits is to correctly calculate the employee's average weekly wage. This amount will determine how much the employee's disability check will be while they are out of work and will have big impact on the value of any permanent disability claim. Average Weekly Wage is calculated by taking an employee’s wages for the year proceeding the injury and getting a weekly average. Generally, you can simply take the earning for the year and divide by 52 to arrive at the average wage. It is important to make sure that the employer includes all overtime and bonus pay. Often employers will leave this pay out and it can have a significant impact on the value of your workers compensation case.
If you have not worked with this employer for a year there are a couple of different ways to calculate the average weekly wage. These alternative methods are as follows:
- Count the number of weeks the injured worker has been employed with the company and divide the gross earning for that time period by the number of weeks worked or,
- Take the average weekly wage of another worker employed with the same business during the 52 weeks prior to the work injury.
If you believe there has been an error in calculating your average weekly wage please feel free to contact one of the Workers Compensation Lawyers at our office to discuss your concerns.
DON'T FORGET OVERTIME PAY AND BONUSES
One common mistake we see in calculating the average wage is that an employe does not include overtime pay or bonuses the employee received during the year. A failure to include this income will result in the employer being under payed for their temporary benefits and for any permanent disability they may be awarded.
SO I KNOW MY AVERAGE WEEKLY WAGE, NOW WHAT?
The importance of the average weekly wage is that it will be the basis of your workers compensation disability check while you are out of work or working part-time. Specifically, if you are unable to work because of your injury you may be entitled to a "temporary total disability" check. You should receive this check if the doctor has taken you off work or the employer is unable to accommodate your light duty restrictions. The temporary disability check should equal 66 2/3% of your Average Weekly Wage.
BE ON THE LOOK OUT FOR FAIR LABOR STANDARDS ACT VIOLATIONS
One legal issue many employees and lawyers overlook are wage and hour violations. We generally spot pay violations when examining our clients average weekly wage calculations. Specifically, unless the employee falls under a specific exemption they should receive overtime pay for any hours worked over forty (40) hours per week. Unfortunately, many employers violate these wage and hour laws. If this has occurred the employee may be entitled to back pay, liquidated damages and attorney's fees. A higher wage can also increase their workers compensation benefits.
Here are some of the most common violation that my office sees:
- Trying to avoid overtime by paying a non-exempt employee a salary
- Paying an employee straight time no matter how many hours worked
- Failing to include bonuses when calculating overtime
- Giving an employee a "manager" title even thought they have no management duties
If you have questions about your workman's compensation claim or benefits please feel free to contact our office for a free consultation.