New notice requirement tucked inside EEOC's proposed regs

EEOC, notice requirement, wellness

Just what you needed, right? Yet another rule requiring you to notify employees of your policies and procedures. 
Well, it looks like you’re going to get one, courtesy of the EEOC’s long-awaited proposed regulations outlining how the ADA applies to employee wellness programs.
Employers have been clamoring — in light of recent lawsuits by the EEOC against wellness programs — for clarity on what’s legal and what’s not when it comes to these programs.
Last month, the EEOC issued that clarity in the form of proposed regulations (here are eight things you need to know about the regs), and in them the agency included a new notice requirement for wellness programs.

The specifics

The notice requirement says that when a wellness program is part of a group health plan (as is often the case), the employer sponsoring the program must provide a detailed notice to participants explaining:

  • what medical info will be collected from participants
  • who’ll receive the medical info
  • how the medical info will be used
  • the restrictions on its disclosure, and
  • the methods that will be used to protect the confidentiality of the info.

This notice requirement is separate from other notice requirements under HIPAA, and the EEOC said it believes it’ll take employers four hours to develop the notice.
The proposed regs also mandate that employers only receive medical info in aggregate from that does not disclose, and is not “reasonably likely” to disclose, the identity of specific individuals.
Complying with existing HIPAA privacy rules will, generally, ensure compliance with the confidentiality requirements of the proposed regs, the EEOC said.

When will it take effect?

The EEOC has asked for public comments on the notice requirement and proposed regs. It’ll be accepting comments until June 19.
The EEOC will then evaluate all of the comments it receives and make revisions to the regs if deemed necessary. The agency will then vote on final regs. After they’re approved, they’ll be sent to the Office of Management and Budget and will be coordinated with other federal agencies before being published in the Federal Register.
So it’ll likely be several months before the final regs are enacted and the new notice requirement kicks in.
Info: For info on how to submit comments, click here.