Week In Review

May 23, 2016

Importance of Human Resource Audits

A human resource audit is a systematic, objective tool to assess regulatory or policy compliance in the workplace. An audit usually involves a survey of the workplace to: (1) identify what laws or regulations apply to a company or facility; (2) determine whether applicable regulations are being complied with; (3) determine whether company policies and procedures are being followed; (4) assess documentation practices; and (5) identify any policies or practices that should be formalized or changed. After conducting an investigation, the Department of Labor, on average, fines employers $9,000 per employee for wage and hour and other compliance issues.

Reminder: OSHA Requires Employers to Provide Access to Restrooms to Transgender Employees

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires all employers under its jurisdiction to accommodate employees based on which gender that employee identifies with. According to OSHA rules, "Restricting employees to using only restrooms that are not consistent with their gender identity, or segregating them from other workers by requiring them to use gender-neutral or other specific restrooms, singles those employees out and may make them fear for their physical safety."

EEOC Issues Final Rules on Employer Wellness Programs

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued two final rules describing how employer wellness programs must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). The new rules are designed to provide guidance on confidentiality and privacy issues, as well as on the extent to which employers may use incentives to encourage participation in wellness programs that require certain health disclosures. The ADA and GINA generally prohibit employers from obtaining medical information from employees and job applicants. The ADA and GINA provide, however, that employers may utilize health questionnaires as part of wellness programs, so long as participation is voluntary. Now, employers may offer incentives of up to 30% of the total cost of self-only coverage under the group health plan (including both the employee’s and employer’s contribution), to promote an employee’s or employee’s spouse’s participation in a wellness program that includes disability-related inquiries or medical examinations, provided that participation is voluntary. In addition, the rules add two new provisions relating to confidentiality. First, employers may only receive aggregated health information collected in connection with a wellness program that is not reasonably likely to disclose the identities of specific individuals. Second, employers may not condition incentives on employees agreeing to the sale or disclosure of their medical information.