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How To Penalize Employees Health Legally, The Wrong Approach.

[hr class="shadow"] [gap height="20"] With any new legal process there are challenges and President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act isn’t exempt. A bigger question I believe is how we treat employees and if you use a wellness program against your employees is it really a wellness program. [gap height="20"] Recently Honeywell International Inc. won its right to continue the implementation of its workplace wellness screening program after winning the landmark case brought to court by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s. [gap height="10"] U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery stopped the request to block the company from assessing employees and imposing health insurance-related surcharges. [gap height="10"] The Honeywell program asks employees and spouses to participate in biometric screening which tests for cholesterol levels and assesses body mass index. [gap height="10"] According to the EEOC’s complaint employees can lose up to $1,500 in contributions to their health savings accounts and be penalized as much as $2,000 for tobacco use. Employees who do not participate are presumed to use tobacco. [gap height="10"] “There’s no requirement that employees partake in the biometric screening program and those who opt out face no risk of dismissal” stated Michael Burkhardt the Honeywell attorney. According to Burkhardt 77% of employees participated in 2013. [gap height="10"] Interestingly it appears that Honeywell use participation as their key metric rather than outcomes. Short term financially this may work but it would be interesting to see if employee retention suffers, if morale is lost and if employee productivity reduces over the long term. [gap height="10"] The intention of a workplace wellness program should be to help, support and aid employees in becoming healthier humans. As a consequence of a longer term view the metrics around the employees such as health and productivity should improve over a reasonable time period for example a five year period. [gap height="10"] Honeywell may well show reduced or maintained costs on an annual basis but this approach doesn't take a long term view. Rather the opposite, a rash fight fire with fire approach that penalizes what is arguably their most valuable resource, their employees. [gap height="10"] Can Honeywell truly be vilified for pushing the boundaries and if they wish to treat their employees in such a fashion and should the law permit this. Their actions raise interesting questions surrounding the Americans with disabilities act and federal law prohibiting discrimination based on genetic information. [gap height="10"] Not only are [...]

Staff Paid To Lose Weight Under New NHS Guidelines

[hr class="shadow"] [gap height="20"] Workplace wellness programs have been growing steadily in the US for the past decade. In Europe countries like Germany may be seen as more progressive but a recent set of recommendations to the UK government could see similar initiatives being created by UK companies. Under the new plans the National Health Service aims to tackle the rising obesity crisis through various incentives including being paid to lose weight with cash rewards or shopping vouchers. Depending on the weight loss rewards could be higher or lower although the exact details are still unclear and will only apply to tax paying employees. Organisations would be encouraged to participate through tax breaks and subsidies on weight loss programs. Mr Simon Stevens the chief executive of NHS England has personal experience of workplace wellness schemes and stated they have been largely ignored in the UK despite their success internationally. After personally losing nearly three stone by participating in a weight-loss program at his previous job for the U.S. insurance firm United Healthcare Mr.Stevens realizes the benefits first hand. The report published by the NHS entitled the Five Year Forward View stated: ‘Put bluntly, as the nation's waistline keeps piling on the pounds, we're piling on billions of pounds in future taxes just to pay for preventable illnesses.’ With £20 billion a year lost due to absenteeism there certainly is a lot of scope for the UK to foster a better culture of corporate employee health. The proposals were announced as part of a greater overhaul of the healthcare system in England due for the next parliament. It will be interesting to see the level of adoption of such programs and if the government truly stands behind these proposals. Starting with the NHS itself where nearly half its 1.3 million staff are overweight, setting a clear precedent will be an important signal that Mr.Stevens and the NHS intend to tackle the matter head on. This is an important acknowledgment that workplace wellness programs are clearly being seen as part of a greater societal solution and one that can improve the lives of many. [hr class="shadow"] [gap height="20"] BACK TO BLOG HOME