About Wellness Corporate Solutions

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Follow-Up: Wellness and the Law

Not long ago, I wrote a blog post about an article that appeared in the Legal Intelligencer. That article, by Todd Alan Ewan and Carolyn M. Plump of the Philadelphia lawfirm Mitts Milavec, basically argued that wellness programs are so filled with legal peril that companies shouldn't do them--and "let the trend pass."

Here's a link to my post in response to the anti-wellness article.]

I'm happy to say that the highly respected [and widely read] Human Resources Executive Online has itself done an article on the law-and-wellness controversy.

I'm also flattered that I was interviewed for the piece. It provides a well-rounded view of the issues.

Here is a key part of the article:

J.D. Piro, a principal in the health law consulting practice at Lincolnshire, Ill.-based Hewitt Associates, says that, although corporate wellness programs may have compliance issues, they should not be avoided. To stay on the right side of the law, employers should focus on rewarding positive behavior without punishing negative behavior, he says.

Piro used the example of cigarette smoking. While there may be a plan in place to reward employees who don't smoke, there should also be a reward given to those who take steps, such as entering a smoking-cessation program, to quit.

"It would not be legal if you said to the smoker, 'You have to quit and if you don't quit, you don't get [the reward,]' " he says.

Fiona Gathright, president of Wellness Corporate Solutions, based in Cabin John, Md., says that creating a program that falls within the rules of law is not that difficult.

"We work hard so that our wellness programs are incentivized, [as] opposed to penalizing employees for unhealthy behavior," she says.

Anyway, I'm happy that an audience of HR professionals got a well-rounded view of wellness programs and the law. The Human Resources Executive Online piece is worth showing to any HR or wellness staff you work with.

And, of course, your lawyers.

No comments: