Increasingly, medical experts are advocating employee wellness programs that take a proactive approach to health. These programs focus on disease prevention and wellness over treatment and illness and are considered cost effective, in addition to keeping workers fit and in good spirits.
But before you implement one of these in your business, you do need to be aware of the fact that there are many different rules to follow. And just because your business's program is in compliance with one health law, does not mean it has complied with all requirements. Recently, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued guidelines advising employers of just this and finalizing a rule on compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), reports the National Law Review. Let's take a look.
Asking About Health
The rectntly-issued final rule from the EEOC to employers what wellness programs can and cannot do to comply with the ADA. But some programs are exempt. Non-implicated programs include, for example, incentivized walking or weight-loss classes that do not make any inquiries into participants' medical background or health statistics. Still, the rule encourages employers to make it possible for workers with disabilities to participate in these programs too.
Programs that must adhere to the new rule are those that make disability-related inquiries or require participants to undergo medical exams, answer medical questionnaires, take health risk assessments or do biometrics screening. Programs that do not inquire into participant health in these way are not implicated by the new rule and, thus, need not comply.
However, given that most employee wellness programs likely ask participants at least a few questions about the health and habits, and that medical questionnaires are included in this list, it seems wise to get professional advice on compliance. You may find too that there are other important rules your program must follow, as the EEOC pointed out when releasing its final rule.
Apart from compliance with the ADA, your employee wellness program has to adhere to the requirements of the Affordable Care Act and other health, insurance, and employment regulations. There is a veritable thicket of intersecting regulation. To make sure your program doesn't jeopardize your business, talk to a lawyer.
Consult With Counsel
If you have questions about employee wellness programs or any other aspect of compliance, talk to a lawyer. Get guidance and make sure you do the right thing for your business and your employees.
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