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SAIF Corp. v. Sparks

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 08-21-2013
Case #: A148910
Ortega, P.J. for the court; Hadlock, J.; and Edmonds, S.J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A148910.pdf

Workers Compensation: Subsistence and travel pay that are combined with an employee's wages and are paid in addition to regular hourly wages in a singular paycheck will not be treated as reimbursements and will be due as a part of the worker's disability benefits.

SAIF and Pioneer Waterproofing Co. Inc. (SAIF) appealed a decision by the Workers' Compensation Board (board). Sparks was paid a daily subsistence pay in addition to his regular hourly wages and travel allowances, while working on projects in Oregon. His total earnings were paid in a single paycheck and he was never required to present receipts of his expenditures. While working on the project, Sparks became disabled and the subsistence and travel pay ceased. At a hearing the administrative law judge determined that Sparks was due the extra wages as part of his temporary total disability (TTD) benefits. The board affirmed. SAIF challenged the Board’s understanding of the terms “wage” and “reimburse” for the purposes of the presiding rule. The court determined that the meaning of the word “reimburse” is to pay one back an equivalent for their spending. Based on this definition, Sparks subsistence and travel pay were not provided as reimbursements because he was provided this additional pay along with his regular hours in a single paycheck without having to submit receipts. Also, the payment amount was not based on his specific expenditures. Therefore, the subsistence and travel pay were properly considered wages in determining Sparks' TTD benefits. Affirmed.