Chicago partner Sarah Millar was quoted in an NPR article titled, “When Does Workplace Wellness Become Coercive?” The article discusses employer health plans that use rewards and penalties to incentivize workers into signing up for wellness programs.
A proposed rule by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission tries to create a balance between voluntary wellness programs and employer incentives. It says that employers cannot fire or deny coverage to workers declining to participate in wellness programs. The proposal has received negative feedback from both employers (saying that it may lead to an end in advancements in workplace health improvement) and consumers (saying that I strips the workers of protections against health or disability-related discrimination).
Sarah commented on the EEOC’s proposed changes relating to determining when a program must be deemed voluntary or not. “What was not clear was at what point between zero and 100 percent [of the cost of employee health coverage], does a program not become voluntary?” she said. “Now, as long as it’s below 30 percent and meets certain disclosure requirements, then a program is still considered voluntary.”