De-Mystifying Minnesota Workers’ Comp: The Average Weekly Wage
In Minnesota, workers' compensation wage loss is always calculated based on the employee's average weekly wage (AWW) at the time of the injury. Wage loss benefits are usually the most valuable portion of a Minnesota workers’ compensation claim. As such, it is important that the AWW be calculated correctly.
For full-time, regularly scheduled workers in the state of Minnesota, the average weekly wage is normally calculated by adding your total gross earnings for the 26 weeks prior to the date of injury, and dividing that amount by 26 weeks.
There are a number of exceptions to this general rule regarding the calculation of the average weekly wage. Workers’ compensation insurers frequently fail to include things like overtime, bonuses, or wages from a second job. They also frequently miscalculate the average weekly wage for construction workers or workers with irregular hours. An incorrectly calculated average weekly wage can cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars!
Some examples of additional income that should be included in the average weekly wage include:
- If you frequently work overtime hours, your overtime pay should also be included in your AWW calculation.
- If an employee works more than one job on the date of the injury, wages from all the jobs must be included in calculating the employee’s AWW.
- In addition to salary or wages, some other types of monetary benefits should also usually be included in the AWW calculation, such as declared tips or the value of room and board.
For employees who work part time or work irregular schedules, the AWW for a Minnesota workers’ compensation claim is determined by calculating the average daily wage. This is calculated as follows:
- Add up the total amount earned by the employee, including vacation and holiday pay, during the 26 weeks prior to the injury.
- Count the total number of days actually worked during that period, including days of paid vacation and paid holidays.
- Divide the total amount of gross earnings by the actual number of days worked to calculate the average daily wage during that time period.
- The total number of days worked during the 26 weeks prior to the injury is then divided by the number of weeks the employee actually worked during the time period to compute the average number of days worked each week.
- The average daily wage is then multiplied by the average number of days worked each week to calculate the employee’s average weekly wage.
In construction and seasonal trades, working 65 hours one week and 25 the next week is a common practice. Projects are generally worked on until completed and contractors generally disfavor on-the-clock employees doing nothing during drought periods. Employees often welcome the breaks because Mille Lacs is waiting in the winter, deer season is calling, and snowmobiles need exercise. The breaks in work are normally compensated by overtime and long hours during peak periods. For construction workers and other seasonal trades, the average weekly wage is never less than five times the average daily wage. The average weekly wage for construction workers is very frequently miscalculated.
Workers’ compensation insurance companies very frequently under-calculate the employee’s average weekly wage by excluding wages that should otherwise be included, by failing to include earnings from other jobs, or by employing an incorrect calculation method. Because of this, when Meuser Law Office calculates an employee’s average weekly wage, our attorneys frequently come up with a higher AWW than the insurance company’s calculation. An under-calculation of your AWW reduces the amount the wage loss benefits you are paid, including Temporary Total Disability (TTD), Temporary Partial Disability (TPD), or Permanent Total Disability (PTD). This can amount to a significant underpayment of benefits.
If you believe that your employer has miscalculated your wage loss benefits or simply want to double check, contact an attorney at Meuser Law Office, P.A. today for a free, no-obligation consultation. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle Minnesota workers’ compensation cases on a daily basis and are very familiar with the most current laws and calculations to determine your average wage. We will ensure you receive the full benefits you are entitled.