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EEOC Wellness Regulations To End In 2019

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will terminate its current workplace wellness regulations on January 1, 2019.

The EEOC established the regulations to keep the disclosure of information as part of employer wellness programs voluntary, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).

The change in regulations follows a lawsuit filed in 2016 by AARP that challenged the part of the EEOC regulations concerning the percentage of premiums employers could impose on employees who refuse to disclose medical and genetic information through workplace wellness programs.

A federal judge ruled that the current regulations were not properly justified and thus were unlawful. According to the ruling, the EEOC could not provide proof that a 30 percent incentive level made wellness programs "voluntary" under the ADA and GINA.

The judge ordered the EEOC to create new rules. A draft of the new regulations is scheduled for August 2018, while the final rules will not be available until October 2019. Marlene Y. Satter "EEOC Wellness Regulations Will Sunset In January 2019" www.benefitspro.com (Dec. 28, 2017).


Commentary

Currently, the EEOC wellness program regulations allow employers to provide a certain amount of financial and other incentives for employees who answer disability-related questions or take medical examinations as part of an employer’s wellness program.

The regulations affect those employers who offer an incentive in exchange for medical or genetic information. Under the current regulations, they must cap the incentive at 30 percent of the total cost for self-only coverage of the plan in which the employee is enrolled. The rule only applies to wellness programs that require employees to answer disability-related questions or undergo medical examinations in order to earn a reward or avoid a penalty. It does not apply to programs that give incentives for working out or attending a nutrition class.

The purpose of the regulations is to keep employers from discriminating against individuals based on disability by requiring them to disclose sensitive medical information. The regulations are intended to make sure that wellness programs that require disclosure of medical information are voluntary.

As mentioned in the article, the current version of the wellness program rule is set to end on January 1, 2019. However, until then, employers must make sure they continue to adhere to the rule.

To learn more about the EEOC’s wellness program regulations, visit https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/regulations/qanda-ada-wellness-final-rule.cfm.

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