EEOC Issues Final Employer Wellness Rules

By Michael Berwanger, JD, Director, Quality Management & Compliance

ThEEOC, employer wellness program, wellness program, ACA, GINAe U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued final rules yesterday that describe how Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) apply to wellness programs offered by employers that request health information from employees and their spouses. The two rules provide guidance to both employers and employees about how workplace wellness programs can comply with the ADA and GINA consistent with provisions governing wellness programs in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, as amended by the Affordable Care Act. The final rules, largely consistent with the proposed rules from last year, go into effect January 1, 2017.

The rules permit wellness programs to operate to improve employee health, while including protections for employees against discrimination. As stated in the EEOC press release:

Both rules seek to ensure wellness programs actually promote good health and are not just used to collect or sell sensitive medical information about employees and family members or to impermissibly shift health insurance costs to them. The rules permit wellness programs to operate consistent with their stated purpose of improving employee health, while including protections for employees against discrimination.

In addition to publishing the final ADA and GINA rules in the Federal Register, the EEOC has published question-and-answer documents on both rules today, available at ADA Q&A  and GINA Q&A.

The EEOC also has published two fact sheet documents for small businesses—an ADA Small Business Fact Sheet and a GINA Small Business Fact Sheet. For more on the press release, please see https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/5-16-16.cfm

 

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