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Bill Number: 280 Ratification Number: 58 Act Number 33 Introducing Body: Senate Subject: Definition of average weekly wages under the Workers' Compensation law
(A33, R58, S280)
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 42-1-40, AS AMENDED, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO THE DEFINITION OF AVERAGE WEEKLY WAGES UNDER THE WORKERS' COMPENSATION LAW, SO AS TO DELETE FROM THE SECTION SPECIFIC REFERENCES TO THE AVERAGE WEEKLY WAGE OR SALARY FOR STATE AND NATIONAL GUARD, VOLUNTEER FIREMEN, AND INMATES OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, THE DEFINITION OF "VOLUNTARY FIREMEN", AND THE PROVISION THAT NO ORGANIZED VOLUNTARY RURAL FIREMEN SHALL BE INCLUDED UNDER TITLE 42 UNLESS APPROVED BY THE GOVERNING BODY OF THE COUNTY; AND TO AMEND THE 1976 CODE BY ADDING SECTION 42-7-65 SO AS TO DESIGNATE THE AVERAGE WEEKLY WAGE OF MEMBERS OF THE STATE AND NATIONAL GUARD, VOLUNTEER FIREMEN, AND VOLUNTEER RESCUE SQUAD MEMBERS TO BE SEVENTY-FIVE PERCENT OF THE STATE AVERAGE WEEKLY WAGE FOR THE PREVIOUS FISCAL YEAR, TO DESIGNATE THE AVERAGE WEEKLY WAGE FOR INMATES OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS TO BE FORTY DOLLARS PER WEEK, TO MANDATE WORKERS' COMPENSATION COVERAGE FOR VOLUNTEER FIREMEN AND RESCUE SQUAD MEMBERS, TO PROVIDE THAT THE WAGE OF THE STATE AND NATIONAL GUARD, VOLUNTEER FIREMEN, AND VOLUNTEER RESCUE SQUAD MEMBERS MAY NOT BE INCREASED AS A BASIS FOR ANY COMPUTATION OF BENEFITS BECAUSE OF EMPLOYMENT OTHER THAN FOR THE GUARD OR AS A VOLUNTEER, PROVIDE THAT PERSONS IN THESE CATEGORIES MUST BE NOTIFIED OF THE LIMITATION ON AVERAGE WEEKLY WAGES PRESCRIBED IN THE SECTION, AND TO PROVIDE A DEFINITION FOR VOLUNTEER FIREMEN AND RESCUE SQUAD MEMBERS.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. Section 42-1-40 of the 1976 Code, as last amended by Act 121 of 1977, is further amended to read:
"Section 42-1-40. 'Average weekly wages' means the earnings of the injured employee in the employment in which he was working at the time of the injury during the period of fifty-two weeks immediately preceding the date of the injury, including the subsistence allowance paid to veteran trainees by the United States Government if the amount of such allowance is reported monthly by such trainee to his employer, divided by fifty-two. If the injured employee lost more than seven consecutive calendar days at one or more times during such period, although not in the same week, then the earnings for the remainder of such fifty-two weeks shall be divided by the number of weeks remaining after the time so lost has been deducted. When the employment prior to the injury extended over a period of less than fifty-two weeks, the method of dividing the earnings during that period by the number of weeks and parts thereof during which the employee earned wages shall be followed, so long as results fair and just to both parties will be obtained. Where, by reason of a shortness of time during which the employee has been in the employment of his employer or the casual nature or terms of his employment, it is impracticable to compute the average weekly wages as defined in this section, regard is to be had to the average weekly amount which during the fifty-two weeks previous to the injury was being earned by a person of the same grade and characteremployed in the same class of employment in the same locality or community.
When for exceptional reasons the foregoing would be unfair, either to the employer or employee, such other method of computing average weekly wages may be resorted to as will most nearly approximate the amount which the injured employee would be earning were it not for the injury.
Whenever allowances of any character made to an employee in lieu of wages are a specified part of a wage contract they are deemed a part of his earnings."
SECTION 2. The 1976 Code is amended by adding:
"Section 42-7-65. Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 42-1-40, for the purpose of this title and while serving in such capacity, the total average weekly wage of the following categories of employees is deemed to be seventy-five percent of the average weekly wage in the State for the preceding fiscal year:
(1) All members of the State and National Guard, regardless of rank.
(2) All voluntary firemen of organized voluntary rural fire units and voluntary municipal firemen.
(3) All members of organized volunteer rescue squads.
Such wage may not be increased as a basis for any computation of benefits because of employment other than for the Guard or as a volunteer. Persons in these categories must be notified of the limitation on average weekly wages prescribed herein by the authority responsible for obtaining coverage under this title.
Volunteer firemen and rescue squad members are construed to mean members of organized units whose membership is certified to the municipal clerk or chairman of the council of the municipality or county in which their unit is based by the chief officer of the unit concerned.
It is the responsibility of the governing body of each county and municipality which receives the services of voluntary firemen and voluntary rescue squad members to insure that all such volunteer personnel are covered under the provisions of this title.
The average weekly wage for inmates of the State Department of Corrections as defined in Section 42-1-480 is deemed to be forty dollars per week."
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect upon approval by the Governor.