Tom's Take Blog

May 28, 2019

What should employers be aware of when tying incentives to health screenings / workplace wellness programs?

Tom’s Take: Incentive-based health screenings and wellness programs have become a pretty widespread tactic among employers these days. The goal with these efforts is win-win in trying to promote a healthier workforce and lower employee benefit costs.

 

But for as well-intended as these programs typically are, some are coming up short in the compliance department … and proving costly to employers!

 

That’s because there are a whole bunch of regulations that must first be considered with any wellness program that offers incentives. These include HIPAA and ADA as well as GINA (Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act), ERISA and state laws. Failure to follow the rules can result in monetary penalties and potential lawsuits. And while there are a number of requirements to understand before creating your wellness program, there are a few that tend to come up over and over:

 

  • Anti-Discrimination – programs must not discriminate against employees who aren’t able to participate because of a health factor
  • Privacy – information about medical history is protected and confidential
  • Voluntary Participation – to offer discounts, program participation must be voluntary

 

Another reason why some workplace wellness programs run into trouble is because they comply with one set of regulations, but don’t meet others.

 

So, before you set up a wellness program that awards a financial prize or incentive, be sure it’s in compliance with the broad set of regulations out there. A little research can help you avoid a big, costly mistake!

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