In recent years, more and more Florida employers have been adding wellness programs to their benefits packages. These programs come in various shapes and sizes but are all supposed to be designed to improve the well-being of employees. An added benefit is to help reduce the financial burden that employers bear for the cost of health care coverage. Many of these programs tie financial rewards to participation but some have wondered if this is fair to employees. This spring, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a ruling on this very topic.
In short, the EEOC confirmed that employers are allowed to offer incentives in order to encourage people to take part in company-sponsored wellness activities or programs. However, an integral component to the ruling stipulates that all employees must have the ability to earn the incentive. That means all employees must have the ability to do whatever specific action is tied to the incentive or be offered a reasonable alternative.
An example would be a company challenge in which participants track their daily steps and earn rewards when they get to certain thresholds. Disabled people who are unable to be part of this challenge must be given another way to earn the reward associated with this in order to remain in compliance with Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The Society for Human Resource Management adds that employers may not exceed a certain amount of reward. The cap is a percentage of the employee's cost of health care coverage.