Workers in Minnesota earn all kinds of wages – from overtime, to commission, to bonuses and tips. When you get injured on the job, the insurance company should pay you wage loss benefits for the time you take off work to recover. These benefits are based on your average weekly wage at the time of the injury. Average weekly wage must factor in all different kinds of wages. This and a second blog describe what counts as a wage for benefits purposes.
- Salary and Commission
Both salary and commission income count toward the average weekly wage. So do hourly wages. If wages vary greatly from week to week, the insurance company should take an average of wages earned over the preceding 26 weeks before the injury.
- Tips and Gratuities
Both tips and gratuities only count toward the average weekly wage if workers have to tell the employer the amount of tips earned. For example, some waitresses simply take home in cash any tips earned. Other waitresses must give all cash to the manager for inclusion in a tip pool or for tax to be taken out. Only the second type of waitresses would have tips included in their average weekly wage.
Employees may receive performance, incentive, or attendance bonuses. All three types are included in the average weekly wage. Of course, bonuses are usually paid out on a particular date. The insurance company may count average weekly wage for the week of injury when no bonus was awarded. Employees may need to argue that should factor in bonuses and provide evidence of the bonus amounts.
Regular or frequent overtime throughout the year before the injury should be included in the average weekly wage. The time period to be considered is a year, not just the 26 weeks before the injury. This protects employees who work seasonal overtime – during the Christmas shopping rush, for example.
- Vacation and Holiday Pay
Frequently employees have taken some vacation, been paid for a holiday, or needed sick time in the 26 weeks before the injury. The insurance company must factor these special pay days into the average weekly wage. Of course, employees’ pay may be different on those days (no overtime, or no commissions earned). The insurance company should take an average from the last 26 weeks to determine the most accurate average weekly wage.
See Part 2 for more on what counts as a wage when you receive workers’ comp wage loss benefits.
Need help getting workers’ compensation for your injury? Joe Osterbauer, Esq. and the Osterbauer Law Firm stand up for injured Minnesota workers’ rights. Joe’s 27 years of workers’ compensation experience and his team’s speedy service combine to get clients the results they need. To schedule a free consultation, visit Osterbauer Law Firm online or call Joe’s office at (612) 334-3434.