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Average Wage Rises, Increasing Workers Comp, UI Benefits

November 6, 2018
The Massachusetts State Average Weekly Wage (SAWW) rose on October 1 to $1,383.41, an increase of more than three percent over last year. Increases in the SAWW matter to Massachusetts employers because they are used to calculate the maximum benefit level for workers compensation recipients and unemployment insurance claimants.
Workers Compensation (WC)
The workers compensation statute provides that the maximum benefit amount an individual may receive is 100 percent of the SAWW, making the maximum benefit level a workers compensation claimant may receive $1,383.41. But each individual’s benefit rate is tied to the employee’s pre-injury earnings (the employee’s Average Weekly Wage) and whether or not the injury is temporary total, partial or permanent and total.    
Unemployment Insurance (UI)
The maximum UI benefit is now $795 per week, up from $769 last year. The number is based on the UI law, which states that the maximum UI benefit is 50 percent of a claimant’s previous wage, up to 57.5 percent of the SAWW. Just as with workers compensation, each UI claimant’s actual benefit rate will be determined by his/her pre-layoff wages. 
Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFMLA)
Beginning in 2021 the SAWW will be the basis for determining benefit levels under the new paid family and medical leave law. 
The SAWW is a mathematically determined number, based on adding together all of the wages reported by UI contributory (experience rated) employers for the 12 months ending the previous March 31 and dividing those wages by the average number of employees reported by those employers for the same 12-month period. That number is then divided by 52 to determine the state average weekly wage. 
Please contact the AIM Employer Hotline at 1-800-470-6277 with questions about HR issues.
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