The Vermont Statutes Online
§ 650. Payment; average wage; computation
(a) Average weekly wages shall be computed in such manner as is best calculated to give the average weekly earnings of the worker during the 26 weeks preceding an injury; but where, by reason of the shortness of the time during which the worker has been in the employment, or the casual nature of the employment, or the terms of the employment, it is impracticable to compute the rate of remuneration, average weekly wages of the injured worker may be based on the average weekly earnings during the 26 weeks previous to the injury earned by a person in the same grade employed at the same or similar work by the employer of the injured worker, or if there is no comparable employee, by a person in the same grade employed in the same class of employment and in the same district. If during the period of 26 weeks an injured employee has been absent from employment on account of sickness or suspension of work by the employer, then only the time during which the employee was able to work shall be used to determine the employee's average weekly wage. If the injured employee is employed in the concurrent service of more than one insured employer or self-insurer the total earnings from the several insured employers and self-insurers shall be combined in determining the employee's average weekly wages, but insurance liability shall be exclusively upon the employer in whose employ the injury occurred. The average weekly wage of a volunteer firefighter, volunteer rescue or ambulance worker, volunteer reserve police officer, or volunteer as set forth in 3 V.S.A. § 1101(b)(4), who is injured in the discharge of duties as a firefighter, rescue or ambulance worker, police officer, or State agency volunteer, shall be the employee's average weekly wage in the employee's regular employment or vocation but the provisions of section 642 of this title relative to maximum weekly compensation and weekly net income rates, shall apply. For the purpose of calculating permanent total or permanent partial disability compensation, the provisions relating to the maximum and minimum weekly compensation rate shall apply. In any event, if a worker at the time of the injury is regularly employed at a higher wage rate or in a higher grade of work than formerly during the 26 weeks preceding the injury and with larger regular wages, only the larger wages shall be taken into consideration in computing the worker's average weekly wages.
(b) In determining the compensation to be paid to any member of the National Guard or the Vermont State Guard, if that member is not regularly employed by some other person, it shall be assumed that the member is receiving income from a business or from other employment equivalent to wages in an amount one and one-half times the maximum compensation rate for total disability. If the wages received for the performance of duties as a member of the National Guard or Vermont State Guard exceed the wages received from a regular employer, that member shall be entitled to a rate of compensation based on wages received as a member of the National Guard or Vermont State Guard.
(c) When temporary disability, either total or partial, does not occur in a continuous period but occurs in separate intervals each resulting from the original injury, compensation shall be adjusted for each recurrence of disability to reflect any increases in wages or benefits prevailing at that time. For the purpose of computation, the adjustments shall be based upon the compensation received by a person in the same grade employed in the same class of employment and in the same district. The provisions of this section shall apply to compensable accidents occurring on and after July 1, 1973.
(d) Compensation computed pursuant to this section shall be adjusted annually on July 1, so that such compensation continues to bear the same percentage relationship to the average weekly wage in the State as computed under this chapter as it did at the time of injury. Temporary total or temporary partial compensation shall first be adjusted on the first July 1 following the receipt of 26 weeks of benefits.
(e) If weekly compensation benefits or weekly accrued benefits are not paid within 21 days after becoming due and payable pursuant to an order of the Commissioner, or in cases in which the overdue benefit is not in dispute, 10 percent of the overdue amount shall be added and paid to the employee, in addition to interest and any other penalties. In the case of an initial claim, benefits are due and payable upon entering into an agreement pursuant to subsection 662(a) of this title, upon issuance of an order of the Commissioner pursuant to subsection 662(b) of this title, or if the employer has not denied the claim within 21 days after the claim is filed. Benefits are in dispute if the claimant has been provided actual written notice of the dispute within 21 days of the benefit being due and payable and the evidence reasonably supports the denial. Interest shall accrue and be paid on benefits that are found to be compensable during the period of nonpayment. The Commissioner shall promptly review requests for payment under this section and, consistent with subsection 678(d) of this title, shall allow for the recovery of reasonable attorney's fees associated with an employee's successful request for payment under this subsection.
(f) When benefits have been awarded or are not in dispute as provided in subsection (e) of this section, the employer shall establish a weekday on which payment shall be mailed or deposited and notify the claimant and the Department of that day. The employer shall ensure that each weekly payment is mailed or deposited on or before the day established. Payment shall be made by direct deposit to a claimant who elects that payment method. The employer shall notify the claimant of his or her right to payment by direct deposit. If the benefit payment is not mailed or deposited on the day established, the employer shall pay to the claimant a late fee of $10.00 or five percent of the benefit amount, whichever is greater, for each weekly payment that is made after the established day. As used in this subsection, "paid" means the payment is mailed to the claimant's mailing address or, in the case of direct deposit, transferred into the designated account. In the event of a dispute, proof of payment shall be established by affidavit. (Amended 1959, No. 29, § 2, eff. March 11, 1959; 1965, No. 173; 1969, No. 261 (Adj. Sess.), § 4, eff. April 7, 1970; 1973, No. 30, §§ 1, 2; 1981, No. 165 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 1983, No. 121 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. March 28, 1984; 1993, No. 225 (Adj. Sess.), § 8; 2003, No. 132 (Adj. Sess.), § 5, eff. May 26, 2004; 2005, No. 209 (Adj. Sess.), § 33; 2005, No. 212 (Adj. Sess.), § 5, eff. May 29, 2006; 2007, No. 208 (Adj. Sess.), § 12; 2009, No. 142 (Adj. Sess.), § 15; 2019, No. 85 (Adj. Sess.), § 18, eff. Jan. 1, 2021.)