With more companies adopting wellness plans, employers need to be careful what they ask for — and how they ask for it.
Health Risk Assessments, or surveys on workers’ personal habits and family histories, are used to direct workers into employer-sponsored wellness programs like weight-loss or smoking cessation.
Because of poor response after asking workers to voluntarily complete assessments, many companies are now requiring employees to fill out the surveys to be eligible for a health plan.
Though the questionnaires are confidential, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is questioning the legality of such assessments.
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires any questions about disabilities or medical exams to be “job-related and consistent with business necessity.” The EEOC hasn’t taken an official stand, but the office believes that forcing employees to fill out assessments is in violation of the Act.
Experts say with rising healthcare costs and a weak economy, more employers may switch to penalizing workers for not completing wellness surveys, which could mean future legal problems for businesses.
We’ll keep you posted.