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EEOC issues proposed rule regarding employer wellness programs

On April 16, 2015, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced the planned publication in the Federal Register of a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) addressing employer-sponsored wellness programs.  The NPRM is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on Monday, April 20, 2015, but an advance copy of the proposed rule is available here.

Here’s the big news:  the proposed rule delineates a bright line test for when an employer wellness program will or will not be considered “involuntary.”  Remember that participation in employer wellness programs that include disability-related inquires and/or medical examinations must be voluntary and the EEOC has previously stated that wellness programs that offer high financial incentives could be deemed involuntary (and thus unlawful under the American with Disabilities Act).  Under the proposed rule, a wellness program that offers employees incentives for participation of up to 30% of the total cost of employee-only coverage will not be deemed involuntary (assuming that participation is otherwise voluntary under the regulations).

The EEOC encourages the public to submit comments regarding the proposed rule.  The comment period is scheduled to close 60 days after the NPRM’s official publication in the Federal Register.

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