Sept - Nov Issue
September 24, 2014

Understand workplace wellness programs before joining

Author: By Sue Klug
Source: NYSUT United

Would you complete a confidential health risk assessment questionnaire as part of a wellness program if your employer offered to pay you $100?

Would you indicate how often you ate leafy green vegetables or exercised?

Would you participate in a bio­metric screening at work to deter­mine your body mass index (BMI), cholesterol or blood sugar values?

How would you answer questions concerning your alcohol and recre­ational drug use, feelings about co-workers, or family misfortunes such as incarceration or job loss?

Workplace wellness programs that encourage workers to adopt healthier lifestyles are increasingly popular with employers in the hope they will save money in the future.

Individual results cannot be shared with the employer based on HIPAA privacy law, but vendors can produce a report showing aggregate data of all participants. Most em­ployers offering risk assessment offer incentives for voluntary completion, but some have implemented man­datory programs where workers are penalized with higher premium costs if they don’t participate.

Any proposal for a mandatory program would be subject to the col­lective bargaining process for NYSUT local members. In regard to voluntary programs, members need to balance their comfort level with the assess­ment tool compared to the reward.

— Sue Klug

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