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How workplaces reward healthy choices may be changing

If your workplace offers a wellness program, take note. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has proposed new rules to cap the value of rewards attached to those programs.

At first glance, limiting the value of workplace wellness rewards might seem like a bad idea. Why cap rewards if you want your employees to make healthy choices? 

However, the changes protect workers who don’t participate in wellness programs because they don’t want to share personal health info. 

Think about it: If your coworkers are getting free gym memberships or lowered health insurance costs for taking part in the wellness program, you may feel like you’re being mistreated for opting out.

Under the new rules, your employer can only offer:

  • 30% off your portion of the insurance costs (you may get more if you quit smoking)
  • And/or a reward of little monetary value (ex. t-shirt, reusable water bottle) 

A company can still offer health-promoting benefits like a gym membership to all employees. They just can’t limit those benefits to people in the workplace wellness program.

If you care about health privacy, you’ll be glad to know that workplace wellness programs must follow the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). Both laws limit how much information your employer can ask for and what they can do with it.

To meet ADA requirements, workplace wellness initiatives can’t:

  • Require you to join
  • Deny health insurance coverage under any group plans or benefits packages
  • Limit your health coverage
  • Punish you for staying out of the program or failing to reach health goals

Meanwhile, GINA ensures no one can get your genetic information without your say-so.

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