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Understanding How Your Employment Status Factors Into AWE

Understanding how average weekly earnings (AWE) are calculated is essential to making sure you are receiving the temporary disability (TD) or permanent disability (PD) payments that you should be.

One of the simplest and most fundamental aspects of determining AWE also tends to be where the most mistakes get made. That is:  What was your employment status at the time of your injury—full time, part time, seasonal or intermittent?

For Full-Time Workers

To qualify for full-time status, you must:

  • Have been designated as full-time status with your employer at the time of your injury.
  • Work at least 30 hours a week.
  • Work five or more days a week.

For full-time workers, AWE is calculated by multiplying your actual daily earnings—typically at the time your injury occurred—by the number of working days in the week. Your weekly compensation check is generally two-thirds of that amount, though it may need to be adjusted to account for maximum and minimum rates in the labor code.

If you were a full-time employee at the time of your injury, make sure you are classified as full-time on your claim. A frequent problem for workers who’ve sustained a workplace injury shortly after starting a new job occurs when the insurance carrier attempts to minimize your compensation rate by classifying you inappropriately as a temporary or seasonal employee.

It’s just one of the many reasons you may want to work with a Chico workers’ compensation attorney from the beginning of the claim process.

For Regular Part-Time Workers

To qualify for regular part-time status, you must:

  • Have been designated as regular part-time status at the time of your injury.
  • Your scheduled hours for the 13 weeks prior to your injury do not vary by more than 5 hours.

Here, AWE is calculated by averaging out your weekly earnings from the last 12 months. Again, your weekly compensation check will not be this total amount, but a percentage of it.

For Seasonal and Intermittent Workers

Generally, workers in this class will see much lower AWE numbers and don’t receive as many benefits. If you work a number of seasonal and/or intermittent jobs, remember that it is extremely important to report all of the work that you do.

If you are in this class of work, keep the following in mind:

  • Seasonal workers without a long-term earnings history may lose temporary disability payments during the off-season.
  • Intermittent workers, on the other hand, are usually able to determine an average and do not need to worry about losing TD for this reason.

If you’ve sustained a severe workplace injury and need a guide for dealing with your employer and insurance carrier, contact a Chico workers' comp lawyer as soon as possible. Call the Ledgerwood Law Group at 888-761-7383 or through our online contact form.

Our informative guide, The Northern California Workers’ Compensation Survival Manual, is available to you at no cost.