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Getting it right: wellness program checklist

A recent study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that health promotion programs in the workplace reduce the number of sick days by 22%, reduce emotional exhaustion and improve mental health and work ability. Whether you are just getting started or have an established wellness program, you want to be sure that not only are you in compliance with the DOL regulations but also that there is a return on your investment in the program. Our strategic partner, HR that Works! offers the following guidance:

“Remember that medical inquiries or examinations of current employees regarding the existence, nature, or severity of a disability aren't usually allowed unless the employee is asking for some form of accommodation. However, a company may ask for medical information as part of a voluntary wellness program that focuses on early detection, screening, and management of disease.

“If you have, or are considering a wellness program, look at the DOL Field Assistance Bulletin #2008-02, issued Feb 14, 2008, which includes a Wellness Program Checklist. The types of health promotion or disease prevention programs your Group Plan offers must comply with the Department's final wellness program regulations. To determine whether your program is in compliance, go to

To ensure compliance with ADA, HIPAA, and other legal requirements, we recommend that you:
  • Use third party administrators to collect and analyze all medical information. Then do not disclose individual health data to the employer.
  • Only require the employee to participate in a health assessment; do not require the employee to achieve any standard. Again, only the third party administrator has the employee's medical data.
  • Do not mandate that employees achieve some measurable health standard as a condition of employment.
“Employers should also be concerned about protecting health information under state privacy statutes. Be aware of laws that prevent adverse action on the basis of lawful off-duty conduct (i.e., smoking or drinking too much), or the use genetic testing.”

To determine the ROI on your plan, check out the Wellness Counsel of America ROI Calculator located here.

The Calculator lists these components of wellness programs:
  • Disease management
  • Employee assistance
  • Health risk screenings and appraisals
  • Onsite medical
  • Personal wellness profiles
  • Screening and preventive care
  • Smoke cessation
  • Weight management
  • Work-life balance
  • Stress management
  • Vaccinations
  • CPR/first aid training
  • Health fairs
  • Newsletters and other information
  • Fitness centers and memberships
  • Weight loss programs
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Onsite blood pressure machine
  • Massage therapy