What injured workers in Arizona need to know about workers’ compensation for lost overtime
Getting injured on the job or being diagnosed with an occupational illness can lead to a number of concerns, such as whether those injuries will be covered by workers’ compensation. For workers who rely on regular overtime, there may be even more questions about workers’ compensation rules.
As part of the process of understanding Arizona’s workers’ compensation system, it’s important to first understand the definition of overtime. There are often many misconceptions about overtime and how it is calculated.
What is overtime?
Many people make the mistake of thinking that overtime kicks in when an employee works more than 8 hours a day. In order to count as overtime, however, the hours worked must exceed more than 40 hours within 1 work week.
In Arizona, employers must adhere to the Fair Labor Standards Act. Under this Act, employers are required to pay non-exempt employees a rate that exceeds the regular rate of pay when the employee works more than 40 hours within a regular work week.
The term “non-exempt” employee refers to a worker who isn’t a salaried employee and who earns less than $47,476 annually. Exempt employees are typically those whose duties are considered to be highly skilled. In most cases, an exempt employee will have been formally trained for their job duties. By comparison, non-exempt employees are those who receive an hourly pay rate.
Non-exempt employees in Arizona are paid an overtime rate that is equivalent to 5 times their regular wage. Keep in mind that if an employee works nights, holidays or weekends—and they are within their 40-hour work week—the employer is not required to pay overtime. This is because overtime is calculated on a weekly basis.
This means that even if an employee works 10 hours per day for 4 days in order to achieve their 40 hours for that work week, the employee wouldn’t be paid overtime because they didn’t exceed 40 hours for that week.
Additionally, employers may require employees to work overtime. Comp time, which refers to the practice of giving an employee time off from work in exchange for an equivalent number of hours worked overtime, only applies to government workers.
Does workers’ comp pay for lost overtime?
For employees who regularly work overtime and depend on the extra wages they are paid as a way to supplement their income, they may want to know whether overtime is included as part of workers’ compensation.
Under workers’ compensation, employees in Arizona are entitled to receive:
- Medical treatment for injuries sustained
- Reimbursement for mileage to travel to appointments outside their local area
- Temporary partial or total disability benefits
- Permanent partial disability benefits
- Wage replacement
Whether partial or total, temporary disability benefits help employees to cover lost wages in the event they’re not able to return to work for either a temporary period of time or at all due to their injuries.
Regardless of whether temporary or permanent, benefits are based on the employee’s average monthly wage (AMW) prior to the date when the employee sustained the injury. This amount is paid up to a maximum amount, as mandated by the state.
In order for an employee to prove their average monthly wage, they may be asked to submit pay stubs from the previous year. If the employee earns overtime, this amount would be included on the pay stubs.
Furthermore, an employee’s average monthly wage may include regular wages along with:
- Vacation pay
- Holiday pay
Calculating workers’ compensation overtime pay
Employees who may be eligible for workers’ compensation should keep in mind that calculating wages along with overtime pay can be complicated. In some cases, an employer may make the decision that they won’t allow employees who are recovering from an injury or receiving workers’ compensation to work overtime.
Consequently, if the employee is able to return to work but isn’t able to work overtime, they would be able to submit an application for workers’ comp. The application would be for temporary partial disability due to the amount of overtime wages lost.
What’s more, your average monthly wage can include your primary jobs wages as well as any secondary jobs wages. You should be careful to make sure your wage is set correctly because the indemnity benefits flow from the correct wage.
In the process of applying for workers’ compensation, the employee must include some crucial information, such as the number of hours they regularly work beyond their 40-hour workweek. Failure to include an accurate calculation of the time regularly worked could lead to a denial of benefits.
In Arizona, employees are entitled to receive compensation not only for medical treatment, but also for their lost wages while in recovery. After a workers’ comp claim is filed, the employee will work with an insurance company to reach a benefits settlement.
Unfortunately, the process of reaching an agreement isn’t always so simple. In such cases, it’s important to contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. Doing so will not only help ensure your rights are protected but also that you receive the full amount of workers’ compensation benefits you deserve, including overtime.