The Preferred Worker Program (PWP) is one of L&I’s incentive programs where they can certify a worker with permanent medical restrictions as a “Preferred Worker.” This certification enables the employee to return to work and offers thousands of dollars in incentives for employers who bring certified preferred workers back to a permanent job that is suited to the employee’s medical restrictions.

In a nutshell, here are the three main points of the Preferred Worker Program:

  1. Employers can “hire” their own injured worker back to the company
  2. The employer can be reimbursed for many of the direct costs of creating the position, up to $22,900!
  3. Employers receive financial protection against subsequent claims and premium relief

In the words of our expert, Marie Vartanian, Vocational Services Coordinator at Approach Management Services, “This is a great benefit because employers can keep an experienced, trained employee on-board, which is so important in this tight labor market.”

How to use it

You should start thinking about the Preferred Worker Program as soon as you learn that an injured worker may have permanent work restrictions.

In order to create a new job for your potential preferred worker, you’ll want to ask yourself:

  1. Can we modify the job or reassign worker to another position or a combination of both?
  2. Are tools and equipment needed to improve the chance the worker can do the job successfully?
  3. Can we simply change the way in which a tool is utilized to make the job appropriate for the employee?

Approach can help you answer these questions and get all of the documentation ready for the new permanent position.

Partnering with employers

Approach was one of the first administrators in Washington State to utilize PWP in this way and we have guided many employers through the process. If your claim is identified as a potential match for PWP, we will take you through the program step-by-step. This is important, as you’re likely to encounter many physicians, vocational consultants, and claim professionals along the way who are not familiar with the program or how it works.

For more information about PWP, including the specific incentives and reimbursements available, contact your retro coordinator or download our infographic. Remember, to keep a valued employee and protect your bottom line, hire preferred!