I couldn’t attend this year’s annual SHRM conference. I have actually never been to the annual SHRM conference. I secretly envy all of my HR peers that go each year.
But this year was different … I didn’t have to attend to learn and grow in my profession. I could follow it through Twitter and read through the nuggets of information our fellow HR professionals shared from the conference. It was amazing!
There was a great quote from one of SHRM’s board chairs, Brian Silva, – “To be true leaders in our profession, we must continue to develop our professional selves.”
I couldn’t agree more. I know everyone is drowning in work and bombarded with various communications. Chances are very few of you will actually take time to even read this article because we only read headlines now. But we have to invest in ourselves to grow.
So I hope you take some time this summer to reflect on what you are doing to invest in yourself. And take a moment to read through all of the amazing tweets from the SHRM annual conference - #SHRM15. There is tons of information and great tidbits to keep in mind.
Christina Walker, VP Human Resources, Goodbaby International
Simone Stone, Career Advisor/Employment Consultant, Montgomery County Job & Family Services
Linda Sommerville, Area Manager, Employment Plus
The EEOC Proposes New ADA Wellness Program Regulations
Jeffrey A. Mullins, Esq.
Jessica A. Lordi, Esq.
On April 20, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking regarding how Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) applies to employer wellness programs, specifically programs that are part of group health plans. If the proposed regulations are adopted, employers will be required to send out specific notices regarding their wellness programs, and employers might be required to re-examine their existing programs to ensure any incentive structures align with the proposed new rules.
Title I of the ADA generally restricts employers from obtaining medical information about employees but allows examination and inquiries about employees' health so long as they take part in “voluntary” employee health programs (commonly referred to as “wellness programs”). Such wellness programs may include nutrition classes, onsite exercise facilities, and weight loss and smoking cessation programs. Additionally, wellness programs may incorporate health risk assessments and biometric screenings that measure employees' health risk factors, such as body weight, cholesterol, blood glucose and blood pressure levels. The “voluntary” aspect of a wellness program has been under scrutiny for some time now, and the proposed regulations seek to clarify what types of wellness programs are in fact voluntary.
The proposed regulations state that in order for a wellness program that includes disability-related inquiries or medical examinations to be considered voluntary, an employer:
Cannot require employees to participate in the wellness program.
Cannot deny coverage under any of its group health plans or particular benefits packages within a group.
Cannot take any adverse employment action or retaliate against, interfere with, coerce, intimidate or threaten employees.
In addition, the proposed regulations set forth a new requirement for employers to provide specific notices to employees when a wellness program is part of a group health plan. Such notice must:
Be written in a manner so that employees from whom medical information is being obtained can reasonably understand it.
Describe the type of medical information that will be obtained and the specific purposes for which it will be used.
Describe restrictions on the disclosure of employees' medical information, the employer representatives or other parties with whom the information will be shared, and the methods that will be used to ensure that medical information is not improperly disclosed.
Furthermore, the proposed regulations address whether the incentives offered to employees (which can be framed as rewards or penalties) truly make a wellness program voluntary. Prior to the proposed regulations, the EEOC had filed suits against employers alleging that wellness programs with excessive surcharges and/or large deductions in health savings account contributions for failing to participate were not voluntary. Generally, the use of limited incentives (including financial and in-kind incentives such as prizes and time off awards) will not render a program involuntary. However, the proposed regulations have offered clarification, stating that wellness programs involving disability-related inquiries or medical examinations are voluntary if the maximum allowable incentive (i.e., reward or penalty) available under the program does not exceed 30% of the total cost of employee-only coverage.
It should be noted that tobacco-related wellness programs, such as a smoking cessation program, may offer incentives up to 50% of the total cost of employee coverage, provided the smoking cessation program simply asks employees whether or not they use tobacco (or have ceased using tobacco upon completion of the program). To the extent a smoking cessation program includes a disability-related inquiry or medical examination (such as a program that involves a blood test for tobacco use), the program is subject to the proposed 30% rule.
Finally, the EEOC emphasized that even when employers comply with the ADA wellness program rules, they still must comply with the other laws enforced by the EEOC, including Title I of the ADA which restricts the medical information employers may obtain from applicants and employees and makes it illegal to discriminate against individuals based on disability. Employers must also comply with other laws enforced by the EEOC that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, religion, compensation, age or genetic information. Lastly, wellness programs that are part of group health plans must comply with the requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”), as amended by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), which generally prohibit discrimination in group health plans based on any health factor.
In its fact sheet for small business, which was released concurrently with the proposed regulations, the EEOC stressed some fundamental points for wellness programs that all employers should keep in mind:
Wellness programs must be reasonably designed to promote health or prevent disease.
Wellness programs must be voluntary.
Employers may offer limited incentives for employees to participate in wellness programs or to achieve certain health outcomes.
Medical information obtained as part of a wellness program must be kept confidential.
Employers must provide reasonable accommodations that enable employees with disabilities to participate and to earn whatever incentive is offered.
Mid year Special -- New 2015 Memberships are discounted 50%
If you know of anyone who has interest in joining MVHRA, they can save 50% fromJuly 1st through September 30th on a 2015 professional, professional-in-transition or HR business partner membership. Direct them to mvhra.org for the on-line application and additional information about member benefits.
Note: This discount applies to new member applications only, not to 2016 renewals.
Interested in Pursuing Human Resources Certification?
Are you considering earning an HR credential or adding and HR credential to your professional portfolio? As most of you know, you can pursue HR certification through the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI – www.hrci.org) or the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM – www.shrm.org/certification). Now would be the perfect time to enroll for a fall study prep course!
MVHRA will be providing two scholarships for free attendance at an HR certification prep course – one to attend the Wright State University study course and one to attend the Sinclair Community College study course. Contact Brandon Bernzott for further details on applying a scholarship (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Offering Prep Course for the HRCI and SHRM Certification Exams:
New Way to Gain HR Content Knowledge and Recertification Credit Hours – Enroll in the
HR Certificate Program at Wright State
Wright State will be launching an HR Certificate program which will allow HR professionals from the community to take classes as a non-degree student (you need only have high school diploma or GED equivalent to enroll). The certificate will consist of six 3 credit undergraduate courses: Intro HR and Staffing are required and then you chose 4 additional courses from a long list of possible courses. The WSU course that helps study for the PHR and SPHR Certification exams is Mgt 3210, the first required class for the Wright State HR Certificate program. After the HR Certification study course is complete, you can decide whether you want to pursue the full Wright State HR Certificate.
Important Note: If you have already earned HR certification (PHR, SPHR, SHRM-CP, or SHRM-SCP), you will get the three credits for the introductory HR class for free and be able to complete the certificate in five classes rather than six! The HR Certificate program will begin this fall and classes will be held as one night per week semester night courses, on weekends and some will also be offered online. For those of who are already certified, recertification credits can be earned for taking the undergraduate courses in the certificate program. Sixty recertification hours are required for both the HRCI and SHRM certifications. For HRCI, each class contact hour is equivalent to one recertification credit hour (courses require at least 38 contact hours) and for SHRM, each three credit semester class is equivalent to 45 Professional Development Credits (PDCs). What an easy, useful way to gain content knowledge, competencies, and recertification hours! We look forward to seeing you on campus. Call me for further information or to get on our mailing list: Melissa Gruys - 937-775-2375 - email@example.com.
A reminder to all of you who already have your PHR, SPHR or other HRCI credentials…you have until the end of 2015 to earn your SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP certification by completing the SHRM pathway process (http://www.shrm.org/certification/pathway/pages/default.aspx). SHRM certification is free is if you are currently certified and in good standing (with recertification and renewal fees occurring every three years).
by Melissa Gruys, Professor and Chair, Management and International Business Department, Wright State University
Committee Spotlight: Certification
For this month’s committee spotlight article, we’d like to focus on the Certification Committee. The committee is led by Brandon Bernzott with the help of assistant chair Melissa Gruys. And wow have they had one crazy year!
Our Certification Committee focuses on providing information to our members about the HR certification through SHRM and HRCI. They run our certification scholarships with local colleges for the certification prep classes. Plus, they make sure we have the latest certification news available through our newsletter.
In addition to staying on top of all the certification details, they also submit all of our programs (luncheons and professional development workshops) to HRCI and SHRM for pre-approval.
The certifications in our profession continue to evolve and it’ll be interesting to see what the next few years will bring. We are honored and lucky to have an outstanding certification committee.