Employee Wellness

Authors: Ashley Shaw and Tracy Morley, XpertHR Legal Editors

Employee wellness programs are typically used to prevent illness by motivating employees to adopt and maintain healthful behaviors. These programs are popular with employers looking to reduce health care costs and can result in increased employee productivity and satisfaction. There are many components to a good wellness program and an employer can pick and choose what to offer from a variety of options such as:

  • Vaccinations;
  • Exercise classes, reduced or free gym memberships or on-site exercise equipment;
  • Nutrition classes and information;
  • Employee Assistance Programs;
  • Substance abuse counseling;
  • Smoking cessation programs; or
  • General safety and health tips for work and home.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) updated the wellness rules under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), permitting the use of incentive-based programs, and clearing the way for employers to expand upon existing wellness programs. Even though such programs are permitted under HIPAA and the ACA, when creating a wellness program, an employer needs to consider how the program interacts with federal antidiscrimination laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). For example, the ADA's reasonable accommodation requirements and GINA's discrimination provisions may limit the design of incentive-based wellness programs. Additionally, wellness programs that provide rewards to employees for attaining certain outcomes, while penalizing employees who do not, may have an adverse impact on certain protected classes, such as older workers, women and minorities.

Using XpertHR's various Tools and resources can help an employer successfully implement and manage legally compliant wellness programs.

Tasks

How To's

Policies and Documents

Employment Law Manual

General Wellness Program Information

Interplay With Other Laws

Possible Components of a Wellness Program

Best Practice Manual

FAQs