Many employers offer workplace wellness programs as a way to help control health care costs, encourage healthier lifestyles and prevent disease. There a number of federal laws that impact the design of employer-sponsored wellness programs, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under the ADA:
Wellness programs cannot discriminate against individuals with disabilities;
Medical information obtained as part of a wellness program must be kept confidential; and
Wellness programs that involve medical examinations or disability-related questions must satisfy certain additional requirements.
On May 17, 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a long-awaited final rule to address how the ADA impacts the design of wellness programs. In general, the final rule became effective for plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2017. However, the EEOC removed the incentive limits from the final rule, effective Jan. 1, 2019, in order to implement a court ruling that vacated that portion of the final rule.
WELLNESS PROGRAM DESIGN
Wellness programs that involve medical exams or disability-related questions must comply with the following requirements:
· The program must be reasonably designed to promote health or prevent disease;
· Employees’ participation in the program must be voluntary; and
· Employers must provide employees with a notice that describes how medical information will be collected, used and kept confidential.
INCENTIVE LIMITS - REMOVED
· Effective Jan. 1, 2019, the EEOC removed the incentive limits from the final wellness rule.
· Employers should be careful about structuring incentives for wellness programs that ask for health information or involve medical exams.