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EEOC Expected to Publish New Wellness Rules in 2020

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has indicated plans to issue new proposed rules on permissible wellness incentives under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in early 2020.

Final rules were last released in May 2016, which stated that the ADA applies to employer-sponsored wellness plans that ask for health information or include medical exams. The final rules included a 30% limit for wellness incentives, which was later vacated by a federal court and removed from the rules.

Final Wellness Rules As They Stand Today

Under the ADA, an employer may make disability-related inquires and require medical examinations after employment begins only if they are job-related and consistent with business necessity. These inquiries and exams, however, are permitted even if not job-related and consistent with business necessity if they are part of a voluntary wellness program.

The EEOC’s final rules restricted incentives offered to employees who answer disability-related questions or undergo medical examinations as part of a wellness program. The restriction was 30% of the total cost for self-only health plan coverage. These rules became effective on January 1, 2017.

Effective January 1, 2019, the EEOC removed the incentive limits from its final wellness plan rules to implement a court’s order that vacated that portion of the final rules.

New EEOC Rules Timeline & Action Steps Until Released

Although it is not clear when new proposed rules will be released, the EEOC’s Fall 2019 regulatory agenda indicated that the rules would be issued in early 2020.

Until the EEOC issues the new rules, employers should carefully consider the level of incentives they use with their wellness programs and watch for developments regarding rule release. 

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It is our goal to guide you through ongoing change. We will advise of any new developments related to the EEOC’s wellness rules as they are released. If you have any questions in the meantime, please contact Creative Benefits at solutions@creativebenefitsinc.com or 866-306-0200.