Does workers’ compensation cover lost overtime hours in Georgia?
Workers’ compensation benefits provide a valuable source of wage replacement when an employee is unable to work due to an occupational injury or illness. Among the factors involved in calculating a workers’ compensation claim is the worker’s average weekly wage (AWW). This figure is used to determine how much the employee will be paid through workers’ compensation insurance.
The AWW is based on the average gross pay the employee received each week during the 13 weeks preceding the injury or illness. Although there is a cap for benefits, the greater the average weekly wage, the greater the benefit rate for the employee.
For some employees, however, things can get confusing when taking overtime into consideration. In fact, many employees rely on overtime wages as a significant portion of their income.
If this is the case for you, it’s in your best interests to contact an experienced workers’ comp attorney to help you through the process.
In the meantime, here’s an overview of what you can expect.
How overtime affects workers’ compensation
Before we can answer the question of whether workers’ comp will actually pay for overtime, it’s important to understand the laws governing overtime in Georgia.
Generally speaking, employers must pay overtime pay to employees in Georgia for any hours worked in excess of 40 hours during the workweek. Overtime pay is issued at a rate of at least 1.5 times the employee’s regular pay rate.
That said, there are some exceptions to this rule. For instance, those who are employed in administrative, executive, outside sales or other professional positions, and those who are paid on a salary basis, are exempt from this rule.
There are no mandatory overtime rules for simply working more than 8 hours per day. Overtime is calculated on a weekly basis for non-exempt positions.
Let’s take a look at an example:
Suppose you are a non-exempt (qualifying) employee and your regular pay rate is $20 per hour. During the week, you work 45 hours. To calculate your pay rate, 40 hours would be multiplied by $20 per hour and 5 hours would be calculated at your regular rate of $20 times 1.5, which is $30 per hour. This gives you a total of $950 for the week.
How is overtime applied to workers’ compensation?
To determine your workers’ compensation payroll calculation, your pay rate for workers’ compensation is determined by calculating your average weekly wage. This amount is calculated up to the maximum amount mandated by Georgia.
In order to take advantage of the opportunity to claim workers’ compensation overtime excess, you need to ensure that your claim includes all of your pay stubs for the year leading up to your injury or illness. This will help in averaging the amount that you actually earned during this time period, which should include overtime.
In fact, when calculating your AWW, it should not only include your regular pay and overtime, but also vacation pay, holiday pay and any incentives or bonuses you may have received during that time.
In addition to providing benefits for temporary total disability or permanent disability payments to cover lost wages, workers’ comp also provides payments for mileage reimbursement for travel to receive medical treatment.
Tips when filing a workers’ compensation claim
When you are injured or become ill on the job and need to take some time off to recover, you will naturally be concerned about how you are going to cover your bills and other expenses. Even if you only need to take a short period of time off from work, lost wages can add up quickly and leave you facing a mountain of bills.
When filing a claim for workers’ compensation, it’s crucial that you include all hours that you work, especially if you frequently work in excess of 40 hours per week.
In the event that your employer has a tendency to issue your schedule ahead of time, try to obtain documentation showing your upcoming schedule. This will provide the proof you need to demonstrate the amount of work and pay you will miss due to being off work because of your injury or illness.
Keep in mind that workers’ compensation will not kick in immediately to cover the first week that you are off work, unless your illness or injury will necessitate taking off at least 14 days from work.
Contact a Georgia workers’ compensation attorney
Filing a workers’ compensation claim can quickly get complicated. This is especially true if you generally rely on overtime and need to make sure your workers’ compensation will cover your extra hours. With so much on the line for your income during this time, it’s simply too important to leave your claim up to chance.
Unfortunately, each year many people have their workers’ compensation claim denied for a variety of reasons. Although such claims can be appealed, this takes time. When you are recovering from an injury and need help paying your medical bills and replacing lost wages, you don’t have any time to lose.
Consulting with an experienced Georgia workers’ compensation attorney is the best step you can take from the moment of your injury to ensure your rights are protected and you receive the maximum possible benefits.