EEOC Provides Guidance on Wellness Program Incentives

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently issued an opinion letter on whether employee financial incentives to participate in an employer’s wellness program would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.

 
The EEOC declined to address whether such financial incentives would violate the ADA. It noted that the ADA allows employers to conduct voluntary medical examinations as long as the information obtained is kept confidential and apart from personnel records. Such programs are voluntary if the employee is not required to participate and not penalized for failing to participate.
 
With respect to GINA, the EEOC noted that the final regulations state that employers may not offer financial incentives for individuals to provide genetic information as part of a wellness program. However, an employer may offer a financial incentive for completion of a health risk assessment that includes questions about family medical history or other genetic information, if that financial incentive would be available whether or not the employee answered those questions.