The Industrial Insurance Act defines monthly wages as the earnings the worker was receiving from all employment at the time of injury (or the date of manifestation of an occupational disease). Wages must also include the reasonable value of board, housing fuel, or other consideration of a like nature received from the employer as part of the contract of hire. If the injured worker has a second job at the time of injury or date of manifestation, the earnings from the additional employment must also be included when computing the worker’s gross monthly wage. This provision of the Industrial Insurance Act was intended to ensure that wages are computed in a fair and equitable manner. In order to calculate wages at the time of injury in a fair and equitable manner, the Department must first determine the injured worker’s employment pattern. The employment pattern determines the most appropriate formula to be used for calculating wages.
Possible employment patterns are outlined in RCW 51.08.178. The text of this statute can be found at http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=51.08.178. Most injured workers’ work pattern falls under the first category which covers the typical, forty-hour workweek. Less typical employment patterns include exclusively seasonal work, intermittent or sporadic work, work lacking a regular set schedule, or when an injured worker has not worked long enough to establish an employment pattern.
Once the Department has determined the injured worker’s wages based upon the appropriate employment pattern formula, the Department can then determine the monthly time loss compensation rate. A worker receives a percentage of wages based upon family status and number of dependents at the time of injury. A single worker is entitled to sixty percent (60%) of his or her average gross monthly wages. An additional five percent (5%) is added for a spouse, and two percent (2%) for each dependent up to five children.
Typically, once the Department has determined the appropriate time loss rate calculation, it will issue an order outlining the calculation. If an injured worker disagrees with the Department’s calculation of average monthly wages, the injured worker must protest or appeal the order within sixty (60) days.
At Foster Law, P.C. we are expert, we are fierce, and we are compassionate. Our team offers decades of experience to helping literally thousands of injured workers obtain the benefits that are so crucial to maintaining their welfare and that of their families. If you have any questions or concerns about wages under an industrial injury or occupational disease claim, we invite you to contact us. Initial consultations are complimentary. Don’t leave your workers’ compensation claim to chance; consult with experts.