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New wellness rules take effect 1/1/17

New rules, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), were issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in May, 2016 and include notification requirements that take effect January 1, 2017.

Employers who offer wellness programs that collect employee health information must provide a notice to employees informing them what information will be collected, how it will be used, who will receive it, and what will be done to keep it confidential. Wellness programs often gather health information through health risk assessments, needs and interest surveys or biometric screenings.

If your wellness program collects employee health information, outside of the services offered through the AWC Employee Benefit Trust, now is the time to review the Trust’s article Assessing the Health of Your Wellness Program Under HIPAA, the ADA, and GINA, and determine your legal obligation.

The EEOC provides a Sample Notice for Employer Sponsored Wellness Programs and a Q & A page for the sample notice.

Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)

In addition to the notification requirements under the ADA, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) prohibits an employer that collects an employee’s genetic information, including family medical history, from offering an incentive or reward in exchange for this information. Also, GINA requires an employer that collects current or past health status information of an employee’s spouse to obtain prior, knowing, written and voluntary authorization from the spouse, if an incentive or reward is offered.

If your wellness program collects this information from employees or spouses, in a program outside of the services offered through the AWC Employee Benefit Trust, be sure you review this section of the above mentioned article.

Notice regarding Wellness Programs

The AWC Employee Benefit Trust will provide the required notice and authorization for the programs it provides to the Trust-insured population, through Health Central. The employer responsibility applies to those programs offered outside of the Employee Benefit Trust’s programs.

Free recorded compliance webinar and additional resource

For additional information, watch our recorded webinar, Jumping through the hoops of Wellness Program compliance. We recommend you share this information with your legal counsel if you need assistance determining your legal obligation. If you require additional legal assistance on this matter you may contact Melanie Curtice at Perkins Coie (mcurtice@perkinscoie.com). Legal fees will apply.

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