Are Wellness Programs Helping or Hurting Employees?
Many employers offer a variety of wellness programs to employees with the intent to improve the health of their employees and families. A healthy employee is also a productive, happy and present employee and can reduce the cost of health insurance. However, new rules by the Equal Employee Opportunity Commission (EEOC) are creating concerns with respect to civil rights laws and there are questions about the penalties for employees that don’t volunteer to participate in these programs.
According to “New Wellness Program Rules Elicit Mixed Reactions,” posted by Julie Appleby on Governing.com, the EEOC released new rules for workplace wellness programs and the employees that use them. One notable change is that employers can offer financial rewards of up to 30% of the cost of an individual in the corporate health insurance plan and they can also apply penalties. While these programs are voluntary, there can be losses to the employees that choose not to answer certain questions or participate in programs. In addition, the level of reward and penalties can essentially coerce employees into participating in a program and providing personal health and medical information they would not generally offer.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from asking questions related to health or disability, except in the case of voluntary wellness programs. The EEOC clarified that an employer cannot require employees to agree to the sale, sharing, or disclosure of medical information, and the program can’t just collect medical information to have it, rather, they must use it as a means to improve employee health. The EEOC also warned employers they cannot seek full costs for a worker’s health insurance if they choose not to participate in wellness programs.
Capture the Right Data for the Right Reasons with ERP
While these changes are being met with mixed reactions, it opens the discussion about medical privacy and civil rights protections. Public offices and private businesses are challenged with capturing the data needed to support employee health, without casting such a wide net that it puts worker privacy at risk. Similarly, public and private offices need to be discerning when it comes to operational, customer and other private or proprietary data. Contact AKA Enterprise Solutions to learn how the right enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution can make it easier to capture data, monitor it in real time, and use it in the best interest of your office and employees.