Proposed regulations on the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act released today
For Immediate Release
Washington, DC – The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) welcomes the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) new proposed regulations on Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. GINA prohibits the use of genetic information in employment and prohibits employers in general from requesting, requiring, or purchasing genetic information.
The proposed regulations clarify that GINA allows employers to offer limited incentives –as either rewards or penalties –to spouses of employees who are participating in wellness plans, to provide information about their current or past health status. The information must be given voluntarily, and the individual must provide prior knowing, voluntary, and written authorization. The new regulation does not, however, permit employers to offer incentives to children of employees.
“I was nervous waiting for the proposed regulations, but am pleased with the direction the EEOC is taking” said Gretchen Young, Senior Vice President of Health Policy, ERIC. “While it does seem that employers should unquestionably be permitted to incentivize spouses to achieve better health, the EEOC lawsuits last fall gave us significant cause for concern. I am relieved that the agency has backtracked on this issue.”
Under the proposed new rules, incentives provided to an employee and his or her spouse for participating in a wellness program can total up to 30 percent of family coverage for the health plan in which they are enrolled.
“This is a positive step forward and I hope we can see this reflected in the final Americans with Disabilities Act regulations on wellness as well,” said Young. “ERIC looks forward to working with the EEOC on finalizing the regulations. Employers should be encouraged, and not discouraged, from helping employees and their families to become healthier, and we hope that this will be reflected in final EEOC guidance.”