By R. Joseph Leibovich
The EEOC today published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding employer wellness programs and the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Many employers have started instituting wellness programs aimed at a healthier workforce, which could also have the effect of lower health care costs.
Under proposed rules, wellness programs that offer incentives to employees for achieving certain health goals would be permissible. However, there would be limitations on them.
Such programs are aimed at issues such as weight loss, getting employees to stop smoking, and monitoring cholesterol levels.
The EEOC has not been terribly supportive of these programs – or at least in how they have been implemented, and the agency has sued employers over them.
Under the EEOC’s proposed rules, wellness programs would be significantly restricted.
According to a Fact Sheet published by the agency, such programs would have to meet the following criteria:
1. Wellness programs would have to be reasonably designed to promote health or prevent disease.
According to the EEOC, such programs must actually have a reasonable chance of improving participants’ health or preventing disease for participants. The programs must otherwise be compliant with the EEOC.
Furthermore, if such a program collects medical data, that data must actually provide feedback to the participants with that data or use it to properly design a program.
2. Participation must be voluntary.
According to the EEOC, this means that employees who refuse to participate cannot be denied health benefits or face discipline, and employers cannot coerce, intimidate or threaten employees to achieve health goals. Furthermore, there would have to be notice of what medical information will be collected, how it will be used, and how it will be kept confidential.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)
3. Limited incentives would be allowed.
Under the proposed rules, an incentive in the form of lessened insurance costs to the employee may not exceed 30 percent of the cost of employee-only coverage. The example given by the EEOC explains that if employee only coverage costs an employee $5,000, the maximum reduction due to an incentive would be $1500.
4. Medical information must be kept confidential.
Wellness programs could not disclose individually identifiable medical information for employment purposes, and there would have to be appropriate training on dealing with confidentiality.
5. Reasonable accommodations for wellness programs would be required.
Thee EEOC gives examples of some possible accommodations, such as providing an interpreter for hearing impaired employees at nutrition classes, braille on program materials, and alternatives to blood testing if an employee’s disability would make blood testing dangerous.
The proposed rules are now in a 60 day public review period, during which individuals can provide their commentary. This is set to expire June 19, 2015. A final rule would follow.
Cover Photo By Brandon.wiggins (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons