Today is the first in a series of Ask Approach articles on wages, time-loss, and pensions. These are often the costliest parts of a workers’ comp claim, so let’s look at the steps we can take for the best-possible outcomes.

Starting strong – Why wage calculation matters

If a claim causes your injured employee to be off-work for even a day, wage calculation will be one of the first — and most important — items to check off your list. It’s really important to review the wage calculation provided by L&I because it impacts so many things through the life of the claim.

Simply put, wage calculation is the basis of all claim costs. Just like a building, your claim needs a strong foundation!

Top 3 Wage Calculation Items to Check

  • The wage! – This seems obvious, but double-check the employee’s Report of Accident to ensure L&I has been given the right info.
  • Submit the correct wage information in the employer portion of the claim form.
  • Classification – Use the following guidelines to make sure your employee is in the right group:

Regular and continuous work – this does not mean that everything is the same week-to-week. Even if your employee has a differing schedule or number of work hours from one week to the next, he or she still fits here.

Seasonal work – As the name says, workers in this classification have a limited-time job for work that’s specific to a time of year — think of a life guard or a ticket taker at the pumpkin patch.

  • Overtime – This should only be part of the calculation if the overtime is “consistent.” What’s consistent? It’s subjective. Your Approach retro coordinator can help if you think it’s borderline.

Tip: Overtime hours are paid L&I at the base rate for the wage calculation, not time-and-a-half, or however you has an employer may pay it.

Your retro coordinator at Approach will help you to review the wage calculation and dispute anything that we think is inaccurate. To do this, we’ll need detailed, accurate timecards and pay stubs for your injured employee. We’ll also need their work history for seasonal work or new employees.

Remember, details count! Missing or inaccurate info can greatly impact claims costs, so be sure you’re tracking hours and pay correctly. If your timecards or other HR forms need an overhaul, contact the HR Help Desk through the Approach website.

Next week, we’ll look at case reserves and how to keep this costly aspect off your claims!