Benefits and Compensation

EEOC Issues New Wellness Rules: The GINA Rule

By Senior Legal Editor Joan Farrell, JD

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued a final rule on employer-sponsored wellness programs in relation to the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). The GINA wellness rule provides guidance for employers that offer incentives to an employee for information from the employee’s spouse about a manifested disease or disorder. The agency also released a wellness rule related to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), covered here.

The rules apply to the first plan year that begins on or after January 1, 2017, for the health plan used to determine the level of incentive permitted under each rule.

GINA prohibits employers from discriminating against employees or applicants on the basis of genetic information about the individuals or their family members. The new rule clarifies that an employer may offer limited incentives for an employee’s spouse to provide information about the spouse’s manifestation of a disease or disorder as part of a health risk assessment administered in connection with an employer-sponsored wellness program.

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