For years, Labor and Industries (L&I) has run the Preferred Worker Program which provided benefits to employers that hire injured workers. This program has helped those with permanent restrictions obtain gainful employment without discrimination because of their previous injury. As a benefit for hiring an injured worker, the program would protect the new employer from any new injury the person filed, and provide premium relief for up to three years.

Recently L&I decided to change this program to make it more favorable to injured workers and employers. Previously, the employer of record for the injured worker could rehire their employee, but could not apply for or receive any of the Preferred Worker benefits. The only incentive provided by L&I in these cases, was the Stay-At-Work program in which benefits would be exhausted after either 66 days, or $10,000.

The new Preferred Worker program has undergone wholesale changes, the biggest being the employer of record can now apply for the benefits if their employee can no longer return to their job of injury. This will provide

  • Financial protection against future claims
  • Premium relief
  • Bonus payment for continuous employment
  • And reimbursement for:  50% of the base wages paid to the preferred worker and some of the costs of tools, clothing and equipment the worker needs to do the job.

The changes in this program were put in place to help facilitate return to work, and to alleviate any concerns employers may have re-employing an individual on a reasonably continuous basis that has been injured on the job.

If you have a situation in which you think you could benefit from the enhanced Preferred Worker Program, or are interested in more information on how the program works, please contact your account manager as Aspire (253) 205-8150.

Greg Kabacy, MBA, CDMS Aspire Consulting LLC