In October 2015, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) proposed to amend Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, GINA. GINA is a federal law that protects individuals from genetic discrimination in both the health insurance and employment arenas, and applies to employers with 15 or more employees.
What will the proposed amendment change?
As of now, Title II of GINA protects employees from discrimination based on genetic information. Employers are not allowed to make decisions about hiring based on genetic info, nor can they request genetic information from employees. One exception to receiving genetic information from employees, however, if is an employee participates in an employer-sponsored wellness program, and his or her spouse volunteers health information.
What the amendment to Title II seeks to clarify is the scope of the incentives that employers are allowed to offer in order to appeal to employee’s spouses to volunteer this information. According to the amendment, incentives can take the form of a reward or penalty, and may be financial or similar, such as time-off. But they must be limited to 30% of the total cost of the plan that the employee and spouse are enrolled in.
The amendment to Title II of GINA won’t change everything. Here is what will remain the same:
- Employers will still not be able to offer inducements in exchange for health information about an employee’s child.
- Employers will still not be able to discriminate against employees based on their genetic information.
- Employers will still not be able to induce employees to waive their GINA confidentiality provisions.
When will the proposed amendment be reviewed?
The EEOC is accepting comments on the proposed rule until December 29, 2015 (so you still have time to comment if you wish!). A final decision will be made some time in 2016.
To comment on the EEOC’s proposed amendment, click here.
And stay tuned to the Corporate Financial blog, where we will keep you updated on the latest HR developments.