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    Danae Hammitt   

Preferred Worker Program

What is the Preferred Worker Program (PWP)?

What is a preferred worker?

What are the program benefits?

As an injured worker, why should I care about being a preferred worker?

As an employer, can I take advantage of this program?

When does PWP eligibility start?

How are worksite modifications and employment purchases paid?

How do I apply for a preferred worker only workers’ compensation insurance policy?

Salem: 503-947-7588 or 800-445-3948

Who’s Who

PWP forms


Related links:
    Bulletin 151
    List of vocational rehabilitation providers
    Bulletin 189
    Bulletin 260

What is the Preferred Worker Program (PWP)?
The Preferred Worker Program (PWP) encourages the re-employment of qualified Oregon workers who have permanent disabilities from on-the-job injuries and who are not able to return to their regular employment because of those injuries. The program is funded by worker and employer contributions to the Workers’ Benefit Fund.

What is a preferred worker?
A preferred worker is a person who has work skills, work experience, and a desire to return to work after an on-the-job injury. A person is designated a preferred worker because he or she has some measure of permanent disability due to an on-the-job injury. Because of the injury, the preferred worker can’t return to regular work, at least not without modification. Preferred workers have identification cards that show employers they are eligible to offer Preferred Worker Program benefits.

What are the program benefits?
All Preferred Worker Program benefits must be reviewed and approved by the division, except premium exemption. Contact the division if you need further information.

Premium exemption: An employer does not pay workers’ compensation insurance premiums or premium assessments on a preferred worker for three years. Contact your insurer within 90 days of hiring a preferred worker to activate premium exemption.

Claim cost reimbursement: This protects the employer from the costs of a new workers’ compensation claim if the preferred worker has a new injury during the three year premium exemption period.

Wage subsidy: The employer receives 50 percent wage subsidy reimbursement for the preferred worker for six months. Wage subsidy may be used two times, once each for two different employers or twice with the same employer for two different jobs.

Worksite modification: Modifications can include tools, equipment, and worksite redesign needed to overcome injury-caused limitations so the preferred worker can do the job. It may be used once with two different employers or twice with the same employer for two different jobs ($25,000, maximum benefit).

Employment purchases: This is help needed for a worker to find, accept, or keep employment. Purchases may include:
• Tuition, books, and fees for instruction to update existing skills or build new skills ($1,000, maximum benefit).
• Temporary lodging, meals, and mileage to attend instruction when overnight travel is required ($500 maximum benefit).
• Tools and equipment mandatory for the job, such as tool starter sets ($2,500, maximum benefit).
• Clothing required for the job ($400 maximum benefit).
• Moving expenses for a job within Oregon and more than 50 miles from the preferred worker’s primary residence.
• Initiation fees or back dues and one month’s current dues required by a labor union.
• Occupational certification, licenses, and related testing costs, drug screening, physical examinations, or membership fees required for the job ($500 maximum benefit).
• Worksite creation costs to help an employer create a new job for the preferred worker ($5,000, maximum benefit)
• Placement assistance allows the preferred worker to hire a vocational counselor to help find a job ($2,000, maximum benefit). See Bulletin 151 for a list of certified vocational counselors.
• Miscellaneous purchases that do not fit into any other category, excluding a vehicle purchase ($2,500, maximum benefit).

As an injured worker, why should I care about being a preferred worker?
As an injured worker, it may be hard to find work following recovery from your injury. The Preferred Worker Program allows injured workers to offer unique hiring incentives to Oregon employers. Preferred Worker Program benefits are available to your employer at injury or a new employer (in Oregon), or both. Most of the benefits can be used with two different employers.

As an employer, can I take advantage of this program?
You are eligible to use the Preferred Worker Program benefits if you are hiring a preferred worker for an Oregon job. You must keep Oregon workers’ compensation insurance and follow Oregon workers’ compensation laws. The Small Business Ombudsman for workers’ compensation has good news about how hiring a preferred worker will affect your workers’ compensation policy and what to do if the preferred worker will be your only employee. Go to Job Match to find a preferred worker with the skills you need.

When does Preferred Worker Program eligibility start?
Normally, the process of becoming a preferred worker automatically begins when the claim closes, if the workers’ compensation claim is accepted, if the worker has permanent disability as a result of an on-the-job injury in Oregon, and if the worker can’t return to regular work. If this sounds like you, but you did not receive a preferred worker identification card, call the Preferred Worker Program at 800-445-3948 (toll-free).

How are worksite modifications and employment purchases paid?
There are two ways to pay for worksite modification or employment purchases. The employer or worker can purchase the required items and get reimbursed from the division. To get reimbursed, the employer or worker must send the division a copy of the receipt or other proof the items were purchased.

If you want to avoid out-of-pocket expenses, the division can issue an Authorization for Payment (AFP) to vendors who will accept it. The AFP assures the vendor that the division will pay for the authorized equipment and tells the vendor how to obtain payment. Many Oregon vendors accept the AFP.

How do I apply for a “preferred worker only” workers’ compensation insurance policy?
If you currently do not have workers' compensation insurance and the first employee you hire is a preferred worker, then you can purchase a preferred worker policy through the National Council Compensation Insurance (NCCI).

For more information contact:
Employment Services Team: 503-947-7588 or 800-445-3948 (toll-free)

If you have questions about this webpage, please contact Danae Hammitt, 503-947-7018.