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It’s a common desire for people to want to be healthy, however as of late, companies have been the ones who have pushed their employees to be healthy. Thanks to Corporate Law Advisory and R. Scott Oswald, managing principal, and Tom Harrington, principal, both at The Employment Law Group in Washington, D.C, here is some guidance regarding the laws associated with incentivizing good health.
Regulations and laws governing wellness plans
A year ago, the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Treasury issued final workplace wellness program rules, arranging existing HIPAA amenities so that they would be in line with the ACA. The two types of programs provided for are:
Blending the ADA, ACA and HIPAA
Employers must design or review their programs with the following ADA restrictions in mind so they are not violated:
Only job-related medical inquiries are permitted (only if they are a business necessity). Also allowed are voluntary medical examinations and histories.
EEOC taking employers to task
The EEOC has increased its efforts against companies it feels discriminate against workers. One case involved Honeywell. In the case the EEOC contended that Honeywell violated the ADA and GINA with its wellness program because was not voluntary.
The EEOC argued that: “Honeywell told its employees that their biometric results would help the company set goals to reduce risk factors.” And “Said employees who refused to participate would lose their health-savings-account contributions.”
Honeywell argued that: “ADA’s safe harbor provision allows the plan, or, alternatively, that the program complies with the ADA’s definition of a voluntary program.” And “Further, the ACA expressly approves premium surcharge.”
EEOC would be denied an injunction in the case as the court reasoned that the EEOC “could not establish the threat of irreparable harm absent a preliminary injunction and that the balance of harms favored Honeywell.”
The EEOC took on two other companies, Orion Energy Systems and Flambeau Inc., on similar instances.
What a company can do
Employers need to follow some general guidelines to help avoid litigation. The best practices include:
For more in-depth details, read the entire article here.
Companies should have activities on a regular basis, that boost the healthy habits of the employees. Employees themselves also must partake in such activities and stay fit both in mind and body!
Considering most people spend eight hours or more at work, companies should offer employees regular activities that will improve their health. Even encouraging people to stay home when they are sick is a way to start. No one wants to work with someone who is constantly sneezing or coughing. Companies should use incentives to keep employees interested and make it fun to do. If an employee attends a guest speaker's lunch meeting, gets a flu shot, works out at lunchtime etc. they could get to leave early or come in late on the day of their choice. I think most employees would adopt good health habits if they knew they would receive something they could use. Other ideas could be a free day of parking, birthday lunch, wearing jeans for a week, or anything else that makes work easier.