Employer-sponsored “wellness programs” have become very popular, and are touted for the potential benefits to employees and employers alike: reduced absenteeism, lowered health care costs, reduced injuries, improved morale and productivity.  But are these programs compliant with the ADA and other federal laws?

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has issued proposed regulations that are hoped to help employers make the most out of wellness programs while complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).  The EEOC is also publishing a fact sheet for small businesses and a “Q&A” for the general public.Shauna Correia.standing

Key points from the guidelines:

Employers covered by the ADA (i.e. with 15 or more employees), who generally are restricted from collecting medical information from employees under the ADA, can do so as part of a wellness program.  The wellness program must be designed to promote health and prevent disease, and must have a “reasonable chance” of improving health or prevent disease. If it is, an employer may conduct voluntary medical examinations, including voluntary medical histories, as part of an employee health program available to employees, but still must comply with the ADA, including non-discrimination, reasonable accommodation, and confidentiality requirements.
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