Does a Second Job Threaten Your Workers’ Comp Claim?
Colorado’s one of the more fortunate states in the country right now. While the national unemployment rate hovers around 4.3 percent, the Centennial State boasts a rate of nearly half that at 2.3 percent. Not only is it the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, but it is also so low that the state’s jobless rate has only dipped that low four other times in its history.
Flat Wages Drive Job Juggling, Fatigue
Now for the bad news: Wages have remained mostly stagnant over the last 30 years or so. According to Social Security Administration wage statistics, the hourly wages of middle-wage workers rose just 6 percent – or less than 0.2 percent a year. Lower-income workers managed to do far worse as they watched their wages actually fall 5 percent from 1979-2013.
This lack of real wage growth – combined with a tightening labor market – has driven more people to take on second or even third jobs. In fact, the number of multiple job holders hit an eight-year high last year. That number has inched up this year, too, but the percent of multiple job holder’s nationwide remains at around 5 percent of the total workforce – or more than 7.5 million workers.
Not surprisingly, this surge of multiple jobholders has led to an increase in exhausted employees. Severe environmental conditions can exacerbate the problem. Tired workers exhibit slower reaction times, more mistakes and a drop in cognitive ability. According to one study, people who work multiple jobs get, on average, 40 minutes less sleep every night. Needless to say, exhausted workers are much more likely to be involved in an accident on the job than well-rested employees, increasing the need for workers’ compensation claims.
What Happens if You Get Hurt?
So what if the unthinkable happens? You are working two jobs, you are drained, and you slip and fall on the shop floor. You can’t move and suddenly, all your monthly bills flash before your eyes.
But the fact is, you are entitled to worker’s compensation benefits from the insurance carrier for the job where you were injured. But, obviously, if you are unable to work, you will lose income from two jobs, not just one. So can you get workers’ compensation for all the wages you have lost?
According to Colorado Workers’ Compensation law, “If as a result of your injury, you lose wages from another job that you held at the same time, the wages from the second job may also be included in your average weekly wage.”
The average weekly wage is the figure used to determine your temporary disability benefit, which is two-thirds of your average weekly wage – up to the maximum allowed. The average weekly wage includes gross wages or salary, commissions, overtime, tips and per diem payments reported to the IRS, reasonable board, the value of rent, housing and lodging, and the employee’s cost of continuing the employer’s group health insurance plan.
But it is still important for you to alert the insurance company of your other job as soon as possible. You may need to provide them with your pay stubs from your other job, and if you are not able to work, they will have to include that wage into your average weekly wage formula. It also is not as simple as it sounds. Since your case will probably involve two different insurance carriers, a case like this can quickly become very complicated. Too complicated to take on, on your own, and why you need a Colorado work comp attorney.
It is worth remembering that a lower-than-expected average weekly wage limits the temporary and permanent disability you are allowed to claim, so it is absolutely critical to get this right from the beginning. If you have been hurt at work, visit the Colorado work comp lawyers at Burg Simpson. We will evaluate your case for free. Call Burg Simpson at 303-792-5595 or fill out our FREE Evaluation Form right now with the details of your claim.