Calculating Wage for School (K-12) Employees
In addition to getting specific wage information it is critical that you find out two other pieces of information on the injured school employee: 1) was the employee contracted or hired to work the school year, a summer school session, or the entire calendar year, and, 2) was the employee’s position salaried (exempt from overtime) or hourly (eligible for overtime). One piece of information you do not need is the payment arrangement the employee has with the school system. When eliciting information from a school representative it is critical that you ask your questions in such a way that the school does not provide you with misleading information. How or how often the employee is paid (e.g., teaches the school year but paid over an 11/12 month period) is totally inconsequential and often gets in the way of accurately setting wage for worker’s compensation benefits. Remember, it’s when the wages are earned, not when or how paid.
These employees hold positions which meet state and federal laws to be classified under the "professional exemption." As such, these employees are not eligible for overtime, regardless of how many hours they work. Generally these employees are hired under a contract to work for a specified time such as either the school year or a calendar year. The contract may include provisions for additional earnings over the base amount for extra activities or responsibilities. The professional exemption includes teachers, counselors, librarians, and some professional support personnel. Typically these are full-time positions. Wisconsin law does not permit this classification to be used if earning less than $750 per month. To set the wage for a school professional (i.e. one with a professional exemption) find out the amount of the contract and the number of weeks the contract covers. Many school contracts are given in days rather than weeks. It is reasonably accurate to divide the number of days in the contract by five to calculate the number of weeks worked. Partial weeks count as whole weeks. Divide the contract amount by the number of weeks and report that amount on the WKC-13A as the weekly rate. For full-time employees report 40 hours scheduled. Next, get the total gross earnings paid to the employee for the 52 weeks prior to the week of injury, or date of hire if less than 52 weeks. This amount will include earnings for extra activities or responsibilities paid to the employee over and above the base contract. Divide that amount by the number of weeks worked for that sum, regardless of when the payment was received. Report on the WKC-13A as gross earnings and weeks worked. Earnings from other separate contracts/checks, such as coaching or summer school, should not be included in these earnings. If injured on a summer school contract or a separate coaching contract, only those earnings are included, not the regular school year earnings. The basic rule is if the employee receives one check for multiple responsibilities, use all earnings to calculate gross. If paid by separate checks for different responsibilities, such as a teacher who is injured as a coach and receives a separate check for the coaching, set the wage using only the coach earnings.
Para-Professionals and Other Hourly Employees:
These employees hold positions which require that overtime (time-and-a-half) be paid for work over 40 hours per week and are classified as "non-exempt." These positions will use a base hourly rate as the basis of pay. Examples of the non-exempt classification include education/ teacher/instructional assistants, library assistants, clerical personnel, food service workers, and custodians. Although almost exclusively part-time, school bus drivers and crossing guards would also be included. As with any hourly employee, you need the hourly rate at the time of injury and the number of hours normally scheduled. Next, get the gross earnings paid to the employee for the 52 weeks prior to the week of injury, or date of hire if less than 52. Divide that amount by the number of weeks worked for that sum, regardless of when the payment was received. While some custodians work the calendar year, most other hourly workers do not. Report on the WKC-13A as gross earnings and weeks worked. If the employee is part time (works less than 35 hours per week) you will need "part of class" information. When counting the number of other part-time employees "doing the same work and on the same schedule", count only those at the same location (school) as the injured employee. Food service workers, bus drivers and crossing guards are automatically considered to be numerically part of a class of part-time employees; you need only establish that the injured employee worked a regular schedule.
These employees are exempt from overtime under either an executive or professional exemption. Generally they have a contract with a base amount and may have additional earning opportunities that would increase the actual gross earnings. The contract may be for weeks or months which must be determined so that an accurate weekly rate can be calculated. Review the method of calculating wage in the School Professional section, as it is the same for school administrators. Wisconsin law does not permit this classification to be used if earning less than $700 per month.
These employees are typically paid on a daily rate. You need to know the number of hours the employee was scheduled to work on the day of injury. Divide the daily rate of pay by the number of hours scheduled to work to determine the hourly rate. Use the gross earnings for the number of weeks worked, as calculated above.