If you’ve had a work-related injury in Victoria, and you’ve lodged a WorkCover claim, you might have heard about PIAWE; Pre-Injury Average Weekly Earnings. PIAWE is a crucial factor in determining how much compensation, in the form of weekly payments for loss of income, you receive while you’re recovering. Let’s break it down in simple terms.
What is PIAWE?
PIAWE stands for Pre-Injury Average Weekly Earnings. It requires looking at the income you were receiving before you got injured at work. This includes not just your regular pay but also things like overtime or shift allowances you might have earned in the 52 weeks before you got hurt.
This information can be obtained by reviewing your payslips and/or tax returns over that year prior to your workplace injury. The WorkCover insurer will obtain copies of your payslips and payroll records from your employer and you.
In circumstances where an employer does not maintain payroll records appropriately, the WorkCover insurer can refer to the modern award or enterprise bargaining agreement applicable to the worker to determine the correct rate of pay for purposes of calculating PIAWE.
How is PIAWE calculated?
To figure out your PIAWE, they add up all the income you made from work in the year before your injury and then divide it by 52 (because there are 52 weeks in a year). This total includes:
- your basic salary;
- any extra hours you worked for more pay; and
- shift allowances related to your job.
But there are things that don’t count in this calculation, like:
- money you got for things you bought for work;
- use of a motor vehicle for work;
- private health insurance;
- education fees or benefits that aren’t really cash in your pocket.
They only look at the income you earned directly from working.
Notably, incentive-based bonuses are not included in PIAWE calculation. This is because they do not form part of the worker’s base rate of payment.
What if I don’t agree with the PIAWE calculated?
Sometimes, the PIAWE they calculate might not seem right to you. Maybe they missed out on some income you earned, or maybe there was something they counted that shouldn’t be included.
If you think they made a mistake, you can challenge it. You should gather all the paperwork related to your pay and hours worked, like your payslips or timesheets, to show exactly what you earned.
Then you can talk to someone who knows about these things, like a support person, a union representative, or even a lawyer who can help explain why you think the calculation is wrong.
It is best to first address your concerns with the WorkCover insurer to gain a better understanding of how the PIAWE was calculated.
Remember, it’s okay to ask questions if something doesn’t make sense. You have the right to make sure everything is fair and accurate in how they determine what compensation/weekly payments you are entitled to.
If after these attempts you wish to challenge the PIAWE calculation further, you can lodge an application for conciliation at the Workplace Injury Commission.
Does the PIAWE change after 52 weeks of payments?
The PIAWE calculation does change after 52 weeks of receiving WorkCover weekly payments in circumstances where the original calculation included overtime and shift allowances. If the PIAWE did not include overtime and shift allowances, there will be no changes.
Calculating PIAWE with multiple employers the year prior to injury
If you had multiple jobs/multiple employers the 12 months prior to your workplace injury, the PIAWE is calculated based on your income from the employer that you are making a claim against under WorkCover (ie, the employer where you injured yourself).
Your income from other employers cannot be aggregated and added to the calculation. The rationale behind this is that the claim you are making for compensation is against one employer and the insurance used to pay for your compensation is from that employer and not the other.
If you have an injury from the other employer, this will be subject to a separate claim.
How is PIAWE calculated if I did not work a full year prior to my workplace injury?
If you were employed for less than a full year prior to the workplace injury, the PIAWE is calculated by taking the average of the relevant period, being the period of continuous employment with that employer.
Is a change in income the year prior to injury accounted for in PIAWE calculations?
Yes, things like promotions or appointments to different positions, resulting in a change in income in the year before your injury will be accounted for in the PIAWE calculations.
It is possible for the insurer to exclude the period before your promotion to calculate your PIAWE.
What happens to PIAWE if you sustain a further injury whilst returning to work following a prior injury?
If you are returning to work after a workplace injury and you sustain a further injury or an aggravation or exacerbation of the original injury, your PIAWE calculation will be based on the 52 weeks before your prior injury, and not your subsequent injury.
Get help from a WorkCover lawyer
Understanding PIAWE calculations is important because it decides how much your WorkCover weekly payments will be while you’re out of work and recovering from an injury.
If you feel like something’s not right about your PIAWE calculation, speaking up and getting help can make sure you receive the fair compensation you deserve. Contact Polaris Lawyers for assistance with your PIAWE or any other WorkCover issues you may be having.