The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) issued a proposed rule on Friday that aims to clarify how wellness incentives apply to the health information of a spouse participating in an employer-sponsored wellness program. The proposed rule amends regulations related to Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) by allowing employers who offer wellness programs as part of a group health plan to provide incentives in exchange for an employee’s spouse providing information about his or her current or past health status.
Prior to this amendment, it was unclear whether an employee’s spouse could take advantage of incentives offered as part of an employer’s wellness programs and still remain compliant with GINA. Specifically, GINA prohibited incentives or the mandating of providing genetic information, which, under GINA, is defined fairly broadly to include information about the health of a family member.
The proposed rule clarifies that an employer may offer, as part of its health plan, a limited incentive to an employee whose spouse is covered under the employee’s health plan, receives health or genetic services offered by the employer (including as part of a wellness program), and provides information about his or her current or past health status. The incentive may take the form of a reward or penalty and may be financial or in-kind (e.g., time-off awards, prizes, or other items of value).
The EEOC will accept comments on the proposed rule until Dec. 29, 2015.
Last April, the EEOC issued a separate proposed rule clarifying how Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to wellness programs.