As we have discussed previously, the vast majority of folks working in Pennsylvania are covered by the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. However, the calculation of wages, for the purposes of awarding workers’ comp benefits, can vary by the status of an employee. For example, a “seasonal” employee is treated differently in these calculations than an employee who works the entire year.
The majority of employees in Pennsylvania (those who do not receive the same amount each week, month or year) have their workers’ compensation rate calculated by averaging out the highest three quarters of the year prior to the injury. The calculation may be different for some employees, such as those who worked less than a year before the injury, or those who are paid by a flat salary (so wages do not vary by the week). “Seasonal” employees also have a different calculation, as the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania recently addressed.
In the matter of Toigo Orchards, LLC and Nationwide Insurance Company v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Gaffney), the employee drove a truck during apple harvest (September to November), moving pickers and bins around the orchard. One day, while exiting his truck, a tree branch struck the employee’s eye, eventually causing him to lose sight in the eye. No work was promised or expected after the apple harvest ended. The employee was retired (receiving Social Security Retirement benefits) both before and after the time he worked for this employer.