Your Side Hustle and Average Weekly Wage
Workers’ compensation is based in large part upon the wage rate earned. That rate is known as the Average Weekly Wage, or AWW. Theoretically, this is calculated by looking at the 52 weeks preceding the date of the work injury and averaging them.
There are a myriad of exceptions, quirks, and technical rules that govern these calculations. For example, overtime may count, but only if it is regular and/or required. There are also disputes about how to calculate things like the wages of teachers, who often are paid for 52 weeks but do not amortize that amount for the entire time. Further complications can involve people who worked for their employer for fewer than 52 weeks prior to the incident.
Did you realize that a second job might have to be included in the calculation of your Average Weekly Wage?
Side Hustle May Increase AWW
This seems logical, right? You work another job, those wages get added into the wages from the “main job,” or the job you were working when you were injured.
As with most things in law, and workers’ compensation specifically, it’s definitely not so simple!
Let’s use an example of someone who is a retail employee earning approximately $26,000 annually. On the weekends and some evenings, that person works shifts at a local bar. Assume he works about 20 additional hours at that job for approximately $16 an hour, or $320 extra weekly.
Without that “second job,” the AWW would be $500 ($26,000/52). However, if the second job wages are added, the AWW soars to $820.
Why does this matter? Because the pay you receive for being injured and off work (TTD—temporary total disability) is calculated as two-thirds of the AWW. And the settlement value is calculated by using 60% of the AWW figure multiplied by the number of weeks for each injured body part. In our example, the TTD rate goes from about $333.33 to $546.67, the difference between making rent or a car payment or not. And the PPD (settlement) rate goes from $300 to $492. If you injured your shoulder and had surgery, that might make your case worth upwards of $35,000, as opposed to far south of $25,000.
Okay, you say, I get it. So what do I need to do to add my second job wages into the AWW calculation?
Easy. You just need to prove your first job was “aware” of your second job.
What if the Employer Denies Knowledge?
If you are a pessimist, you might have already thought, “Gee, what if my employer claims it did not know about my second job?”
Not so surprisingly, this happens regularly.
On occasion, employers are honest and ‘fess up to this awareness. But often they don’t.
As is often the case in legal matters, because it saves them money.
And because they can.
And because they like to push people around.
Can You Counter This?
Obviously, you can always request a hearing before an arbitrator to decide this, or most other, issues. But in order to have a chance at winning, you’d need to present something more than “I told my boss.”
What should you do?
I recommend that anyone who has a second job inform his or her employer. In writing. Save the email, text, memo, or letter in which you inform them of this job.
Never assume that a verbal communication will be recorded and reported.
In our example above, the retail employee should have sent his first boss a quick email or text message informing him of the barkeeping job. It also would have been a good idea to tell them the hours worked, the days worked, and the wage rate. The more information provided, the harder it knowledge to deny.
- Second job wages can be included in the calculation of the average weekly wage
- You must be able to prove that your employer was aware of the second job
- Employers often deny knowledge of the secondary employment
- Give your primary boss notice in writing of any additional employment
Contact Chicago Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Stephen Hoffman
As in all cases involving work injury and potential liability, if you have been hit by a vehicle, immediately get medical treatment, report the crash to police and your own insurance company, and contact a lawyer with expertise in your type of case, such as bicycle accidents or pedestrians hit by cars.
If you've been in an accident and have questions, contact Chicago personal injury attorney Stephen L. Hoffman for a free consultation at (773) 944-9737. Stephen has over 30 years of legal experience and has collected millions of dollars for his clients. He is listed as a SuperLawyer, has a 10.0 rating on Avvo, and is BBB A+ accredited. He is also an Executive Level Member of the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce.
Stephen handles personal injury claims on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay anything up front and he only gets paid if you do. Don’t wait another day; contact Stephen now.