As much as employers want to encourage employees to participate in wellness programs, there are necessary limits as to how encouraging employers can be.
In this article, we’ll give you a few ideas to make sure your wellness program is compliant with the latest finalized rules for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).
Wellness Programs at Work: 3 Compliance Tips
As reported by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the complexity of regulations around starting a corporate wellness program can be difficult to navigate.
By providing opportunities, information, and instruction on wellness, disease, nutrition, and exercise, workplace wellness programs can give some employees the leg up they need to be at their best.
But because wellness programs can often deal with personal information, there are a lot of rules and regulations around what can and can’t happen.
1. Analyze your corporate wellness program incentives
We all know that incentives can encourage participation in wellness activities. But there are restrictions in place that detail how incentives can be used.
For an office wellness program, incentives can not exceed the cost of 30% of annual health premiums, or 50% for tobacco cessation programs. That means all those gift cards, electronic goodies, and athletic accessories you're stock piling for incentives need to be kept in check.
However, since the restriction is based on a percentage, the only thing really holding you back is how much you're willing to spend on employee health in the first place. If you want to offer more enticing incentives, you can boost your wellness program as much as makes financial sense.
2. Don't get too personal
If you've hung around our blog long enough, you've seen that we're big advocates for getting as much feedback and info from your employees as possible. After all, to build successful programs for your workers, you'll want to know what they want and where they're starting from.
But when it comes to health and wellness, there are some rules around the kinds of questions you can ask.
Employer-sponsored wellness programs can’t ask for personal health information such as diagnoses, conditions, or the nature of a disability. This goes for both the employee and any of their family members who may participate in the wellness program.
Your employees and their families have a right to privacy and confidentiality when it comes to their personal health information. So before conducting any pre-program assessment, make sure your questions are not out of line.
As SHRM points out, asking about tobacco usage is a different line of questioning than asking about disability status, so there is some leeway with tobacco cessation programs.
3. Provide alternatives in your company wellness program
To keep your wellness program accessible to all employees, make sure your program's events, activities, and resources are accessible. That means that employees who are not physically able to participate in some incentive-earning activities should be given alternative options.
For example, if the company is offering financial incentives for participation in a local 5k run, an accommodation needs to be offered to employees who are physically unable to participate.
Consider a non-strenuous activity such as participation in a healthy cooking demonstration or backyard gardening class. Depending on your employees' interests and abilities, create a list of possible alternatives to physically demanding activities like races.
To keep your wellness program working for everyone, just remember that wellness is not one-size-fits-all. Progress can look very different from one person to the next. So as long as there are ample opportunities at all levels, your employees will be well taken care of.