The number of people working 2 jobs has been steadily increasing over the past 20 years. In fact, according to the United States Census Bureau, more than 13 million U.S. workers have at least 2 jobs at any given time.
Many people take on more than 1 part-time job in order to work enough hours to equal a full-time position. Other full-time employees may choose to take on an extra part-time position to increase their overall income if their full-time job doesn’t pay enough to make ends meet.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) program defines a multiple jobholder as any worker who has more than 1 job in a quarter, in which 1 or more of those jobs is long-lasting and stable.
The LEHD calculates a “multiple jobholder rate” based on how many people are working extra jobs compared to the total number of employed people. This trend has been steadily increasing over the last couple of decades and has now risen to a rate of almost 8 percent.
The majority of people who work more than 1 job tend to work within several main industries. These include:
- Health care
- Food services
- Waste management
Each of these industries tends to have a higher than average risk for workplace injuries, which means that a significant number of these workers may suffer injuries that require them to file a workers’ compensation claim.
So what happens if I get injured at work and I have more than 1 job? Am I entitled to recover lost wages from all my jobs?
The answer is based on the fundamental purpose of workers’ compensation laws—which is to compensate injured workers for the losses they experience as a result of injuries sustained on the job. These losses include lost wages.
What is concurrent employment, and how will it affect my workers’ comp claim?
Concurrent employment is a term you’ll often hear people using when discussing legal matters pertaining to workers’ comp. This term simply means that a person is working 2 or more jobs, which can have an impact on the outcome of a workers’ comp claim.
For example, if you suffer a work injury while working multiple jobs, you might be physically able to continue working at 1 of your jobs while recovering from your injury if it doesn’t require strenuous labor. If, however, your injury prevents you from working in any of your current positions, you might need to include your income from both jobs when you file a workers’ comp claim.
In some instances, depending upon the type of work you do, your 2nd job might not be eligible for compensation. This typically occurs when someone works as an independent contractor.
Since workers’ compensation claims can get complicated when you have multiple jobs, it’s important to work with an experienced lawyer who can help you obtain the maximum benefits to aid in your recovery.
If you receive benefits for a South Carolina workers’ comp claim, you can select either a lump sum or a structured settlement. Here are the pros and cons of each.
Average weekly wage calculation
Most states use the “average weekly wage” (AWW) of an employee to determine their lost wage. This includes income derived from all jobs held at the time of the injury. AWW is typically calculated by looking back to the earnings from the year prior to the injury.
If a worker is injured after only a short time on the job, then assumptions can be made as to the amount of wages they could reasonably have been expected to earn in the prior year. Sometimes this is done by looking at statistics of similar occupations in the area, for the same level of work and experience as the injured worker, to derive an estimate to use in calculating the AWW.
If this calculation is unfair to the employee or employer due to exceptional circumstances, then the statute allows for other methods to be used to determine lost wages.
For workers having more than 1 job, they bear the burden of proving wages earned from jobs other than the 1 where the accident occurred. Accordingly, the AWW calculation for the job where they did not get injured is not likely to be determined using the estimate method mentioned above. In this case, the AWW will likely be calculated based on pay stubs to determine wage loss benefits.
Amount of compensation
States don’t usually provide for an injured worker to be compensated for the full amount of AWW. They differ in how they balance the interest of compensating workers with the interest of keeping costs down for employers and insurance companies.
Many states require insurance to cover two-thirds of the AWW. This is the case in South Carolina. The compensation rate is calculated by multiplying the AWW by 0.6667.
South Carolina’s Workers’ Compensation Act provides compensation to employees who have been injured in the workplace. Workers who are injured on the job in South Carolina may be entitled to collect compensation for:
- Weekly temporary total (lost wages)
- Medical care
- Permanent disability benefits
Severity of injury
The amount of compensation is based on the degree of disability. For example:
- If you’re able to work with medical restrictions, either for fewer hours or for a less demanding job, then you’re likely eligible for partial disability benefits. In this case, the amount you’re able to earn can be subtracted from the workers’ compensation amount paid for lost wages.
- If you’re not able to work at all for a period of time but can eventually return to work, then you would likely receive temporary total disability benefits.
- If your injury is so severe that you’re totally disabled, then you might qualify for permanent Social Security disability benefits.
Can I take on a new 2nd job while I’m receiving workers’ compensation?
You might want to take on a 2nd job to help pay your bills if your injury allows you to work with certain limitations. For example, if your injury prevents you from standing for long periods of time, you may physically be able to take a new “light-duty” job that keeps you off your feet or requires fewer hours.
If you choose to take on a 2nd job while receiving workers’ comp, you’re required to let your current employer know about your new employment.
As long as you remain an employee at your 1st job, your workers’ comp benefits will continue, but the amount you receive will likely be reduced to match what you were earning before you took the additional position.
You should talk to an experienced work injury attorney before taking on any new job to understand how it may affect your benefits. And remember, you must always follow all restrictions set by your treating physician to ensure you remain eligible for benefits.
You should also notify your attorney and the workers’ compensation department that manages your case immediately if you decide to take a 2nd job while receiving workers’ comp benefits. Failure to do so could be considered workers’ comp fraud.
Contact an experienced South Carolina workers’ comp attorney
The Columbia workers’ compensation lawyers at Chappell, Smith & Arden, P.A. advocate for injured workers in South Carolina.
Workers’ compensation law is complex. There are mandated procedures and deadlines, which involve establishing a variety of forms of proof of injury and employment. A single misstep can alter the outcome of an injured worker’s claim by thousands of dollars.