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.
Insurance companies do not need to include payments to a pension fund if the money does not go directly to the injured employee. Usually, pension fund contributions go directly to the pension fund for that employee. The employee cannot access the money until retirement. Also, the money does not get taxed as wages.
Some employees receive profit-sharing distributions, such as payments if the company meets certain financial goals in a quarter. If the payments were a direct result of the employee’s work, then they could be factored into the average weekly wage. But if the payments are based on overall company performance unrelated to the employee’s performance, then they likely will not be included.
- Pay Increases
Any retroactive pay increases should affect the average weekly wage. This means any pay increases that affect a period for which the employer has already paid wages, like an increase for the previous quarter. If the insurance company has already paid benefits when the wage increase goes into effect, it may have to cut an additional check to the injured employee.
- Room and Board
If an employee has a contract that includes payment of room and board, or part of rent on an apartment, the value of those payments does factor into average weekly wage. Apartment managers or on-site caregivers may have this type of wage.
- Per Diems
Some workers receive per diems for travel expenses, food, or lodging. If the workers do not have to submit expense reports or reimbursement forms, and they receive the per diems regardless of how much they actually spend, then the per diems count as wages for calculating benefits.
- Special Benefits
Finally, employees may receive special benefits such as a car, an expensive cell phone, or other goods and services as part of their employment. If an employee is receiving personal value from these benefits, then they may count as part of wages. For example, if the employee can use the car for personal trips or make personal calls on the cell phone, then the employee is saving on the cost of paying for his own car and cell phone bill. He has received a benefit that gets factored into the average weekly wage.
See Part 1 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.