One of the more important benefits available to an injured worker under Illinois workers’ compensation law is payment of lost wages. If your work injury prevents you from being able to do your job, you can continue receive a portion (2/3) of your pay. It’s important to understand how this 2/3 calculated so you can make sure you are getting the full amount to which you’re entitled.
In order to arrive at the amount of your payments, the insurance company will first determine your “average weekly wage.” You will then receive 2/3 of this amount. So naturally the worker will want their average weekly wage to be as large of a number as possible, and the employer or insurance company will want the opposite. One relevant question is whether bonuses, overtime, vacation pay and other forms of compensation are included as wages.
Illinois law says that bonuses are not included in calculating average weekly wage. However, there are many different kinds of bonuses that are awarded for many different reasons. As a result, judges have allowed inclusion of bonuses in certain situations. It comes down to the reason why you received the “bonus.” Generally speaking, if it’s more of a gift (Christmas bonus, signing bonus, etc.), then it’s not considered compensation and therefore not included in the average weekly wage calculations. If it’s payment for doing your job (a bonus for reaching a certain sales goal, for example), then it generally should be included.
From the employee’s viewpoint, it makes sense that all forms of pay should be included, in order to accurately reflect their income and result in checks that truly compensate them for 2/3 of what they would otherwise be earning. A good workers’ compensation attorney will look into all forms of pay that you receive – bonuses, vacation, overtime – and make sure everything allowed under the law is included when calculating your average weekly wage. Although signing bonuses generally don’t count, other types of bonuses may, so check with an experienced workers compensation attorney to know for sure.
We are workers’ compensation attorneys who help people with Illinois work injuries anywhere in IL via our statewide network of attorneys. Contact us and we will answer your questions or find the right lawyer for your situation.