Employers who sponsor employee wellness programs must plan now to comply with a new notice requirement that takes effect soon. Beginning with the first plan year on or after January 1, 2017, employers sponsoring wellness programs that collect employee health information (such as through a health risk assessment or biometric screening) must issue a notice to employees before employees provide health information to the wellness program. The notice must inform employees what information will be collected under the wellness program, how it will be used, who will receive it, and how it will be kept confidential.
As promised by the EEOC, a sample notice was recently posted to the EEOC website, and can be accessed here. Although employers are not required to use the EEOC’s model notice, employers that wish to do so will need to customize the model notice to fit the employer’s specific wellness program. For instance, the employer will need to describe the type and amount of incentives to be provided in return for participating in the wellness program, and the specific criteria that must be met to obtain each level of incentive.
The notice can be provided electronically, and may also be incorporated into notice materials that an employer already uses to comply with the health-contingent wellness program requirements under HIPAA.
This notice obligation is part of the ADA Final Rule regarding employer sponsored wellness programs that was recently issued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC ), as previously detailed in a practice update, “Wellness Programs May Need a Check-Up Following Recent EEOC Guidance.” The ADA Final Rule is relevant for all employers that either currently offer or are considering offering these types of programs in the future. The ADA Final Rule details the way wellness programs can be structured and the types of incentives or rewards they may provide. Additional information on the complete rule can be referenced in the practice update post linked above.