Wellness Programs

EEOC Seeks Comment on Proposed Wellness Rules

May 8, 2015

On April 20, 2015, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued its much-anticipated proposed rule on the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to employer wellness programs.

SHRM, along with other employer groups, urged the EEOC to provide employers with guidance on what rules apply to workplace wellness programs offered as part of an employer’s group health plan. The need for clarity in this area was made clear when the EEOC pursued charges against certain employers, including Honeywell, for alleged deficiencies in their wellness programs, despite provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) designed to promote the use of wellness programs.

Earlier this year, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee and the House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Workforce Protections held hearings on wellness programs. In a letter to the HELP committee, SHRM voiced its support of employer-provided wellness programs and advocated for the EEOC to issue guidance on applying the ADA within the context of these wellness programs. In addition, SHRM supports legislation introduced in Congress, the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act (H.R. 1189 and S. 620), defining when and how employers can offer employees financial incentives for participating in wellness programs.

The EEOC’s proposed rule focuses on defining what constitutes a voluntary and permissible wellness program in light of the protections of the ADA and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The proposal endorses the 30 percent rule included in the ACA, which states that employers can offer incentives to wellness participants of up to 30 percent of their insurance premium, but limits the incentive to 30 percent of employee-only coverage. The rule also allows employers to receive medical information in aggregate form that does not disclose the identity of specific employees.

In the coming weeks, SHRM will be reaching out and working with interested members in developing our comments in response to the EEOC proposal, which are due June 19, 2015. To review information about the EEOC’s wellness proposal, please click HERE.


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