Unvested nature of benefits opens door for new wage calculation
Case name: Woodwork v. Atlantic Mutual Insurance Co., 17 FLWCLB 50 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2010).
The Florida District Court of Appeal reversed a judge of compensation claims' decision and returned the case for recalculation of the employee's average weekly wage.
What it means: The value of an employee's health care benefits should not be included in the average weekly wage calculation unless the benefits have vested and have a real present-day value to the employee at the time of the injury. The fact that the employer/carrier will begin providing such benefits in the very near future is not sufficient to include them in the calculation.
Summary: The claimant suffered a work-related injury on the 88th day of his employment. His health insurance benefits were scheduled to begin on the 90th day. In calculating the claimant's AWW, the JCC included the value of his health insurance benefits. The DCA reversed the JCC's decision, explaining that fringe benefits should not be included in the calculation of an employee's AWW unless such benefits have vested and have a real present-day value to the employee at the time of injury. The claimant did not have access to health insurance benefits on the 88th day of his employment despite the fact that the employer/carrier would begin providing them in a matter of days.It returned the case for a recalculation of the employee's AWW.
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July 15, 2010
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