The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Monday finalized rules outlining how employers can offer limited incentives for wellness plans without running afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act, providing a road map that attorneys say will allow the use of wellness programs to continue gaining steam.
The commission unveiled a pair of rules that generally allow employers to provide limited financial and other incentives in exchange for having employees answer disability-related questions or take medical examinations as part of a wellness program, or having employees’ spouses provide information about their current or past health status.
In response to the final rules, employers with existing wellness programs “should examine their offerings to ensure they don’t exceed the maximum incentives permitted by the rules or offer incentives for prohibited information,” according to Kristy L. Avino, a management-side employment attorney with McCarter & English LLP, who added that the rules “are a signal that wellness programs are here to stay.”
But despite the confidentiality provisions in the new rules, Avino said the ADA and GINA still impose complex requirements concerning the protection of health and genetic information, meaning employers have to continue training on how to properly collect such information and make sure it isn’t impermissibly disclosed by the wellness program provider.