When does a raise increase the average weekly wage for an injured worker?
QUESTION: When Does A Raise Dramatically Increase The Average Weekly Wage For An Injured Worker?
ANSWER: When The Raise Includes A “Change In The Employment.”
Normally if an employee gets a raise within one year of the date of the accident, the new wage does not establish his average weekly wage because the raise is only incorporated in the average weekly wage, the average weekly wage is an average of the 52 weeks before for the work injury.
In the unusual circumstance when an employee changes the nature of his employment, even if the employer stays the same, the injured worker’s average weekly wage may be increased dramatically because it will be based on the new position and not diluted by the average pay for the 52 weeks prior to the work injury.
In those cases, the issue becomes whether or not the employee was employed “in the same grade” as he was doing before. This usually occurs when a person is promoted to a supervisory position or management position, and his job duties change dramatically. Just a job title change without a change in the nature of the employment is in sufficient.
In the situation where a person was employed in a part-time manner and then began working full-time the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Commission has held that the average weekly wage may be calculated using the full-time employment wage since in this case, the injured worker was never intended to return to part-time employment, and that his job duties changed substantially when he became a full-time employee. The Worker’s Compensation Commission granted the injured worker the increased average weekly wage when they went from working part-time at Walmart and UPS to working full-time for those employers.
The five factors the Workers Compensation Commission look at to determine if the injured worker’s new job was “in the same grade” or not are as follows:
- Reassigned to a new work site,
- New job description,
- Different pay scale,
- Substantial change in shift hours, and
- New written contract.
It is possible to have a substantial increase in an injured worker’s average weekly wage with a new position with the same employer.
If an employee was working as a laborer making $10.00 an hour for half a year and then was promoted to a new job classification and increased pay to $17.50 an hour such as a Project Coordinator, his average weekly wage would increase from $400.00 per week to $700.00 per week based on a similarly 40 hour work week. Before this new case, the injured workers AWW would be only $550.00.
If you are injured at work, make sure you tell your workers’ compensation Attorney if your wages were increased because you had a new job classification in the year before your work injury.
Unfortunately, just a pay raise doing the same job, (without a new job classification) will not result in using the new higher pay rate to calculate your average weekly wage.