EEOC says it won't update wellness rules until 2019
- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued a timeline for updating wellness program regulations, the Ogletree Deakins law blog reports.
- In response to the court’s ruling for further consideration of the rule, the EEOC announced a timeline for alterations that extends into 2021. The agency will issue a proposed rulemaking notice by August 2018 and a final rule by October 2019. To give employers more time to digest the rule, it likely won't be applicable until 2021, attorneys Ruth Anne Collins Michels and Taylor Bracewell write.
- The agency says that the 2016 rule is still effective and therefore employers can continue operating their wellness programs under last year's mandate.
In August, a federal judge granted summary judgment in the case of AARP v. EEOC, siding with the AARP over a dispute regarding the EEOC's updated wellness rules. Essentially, the judge said the EEOC hadn't justified declaring a base 30% cost incentive for participation in a wellness heath program, especially since those programs are classified as voluntary under both the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008.
The judge didn't vacate the rules, however, citing the potential for "disruptive consequences" for employers. The EEOC concurred, arguing that any sudden change to the rules currently on the books would create a massive end-of-the-year headache for employer-sponsored insurance plans slated for 2018.
If the 2021 prediction holds, it's a huge reprieve for HR and benefits administrators. Employers might be conflicted about EEOC's wellness program rule, but they should continue complying with last year's mandate.