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By: Joyce Mocek
The Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued an opinion letter on whether employees must be compensated under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for the time they spend participating in wellness activities. In this inquiry, the employer advised the DOL that it allowed its employees to participate in wellness programs including “biometric screening,” (ie cholesterol levels, blood pressure and nicotine usage screening), during and outside of regular work hours. The screening information could result in a decrease in the employee’s health insurance deductible. The screening was not related to the employee’s job, there were no restrictions on the time an employee could participate in the events, and participation was not required by the employer.
In its opinion letter, the DOL noted the employer received no financial benefit as a result of the employee participation in the activities, and the employee’s voluntary participation predominantly benefited the employee. The employer did not require the employee to perform any job related duties while they were participating in the activities. Thus, since the activities predominantly benefited the employee, the DOL opined that the time the employees spent participating in the wellness program did not constitute worktime under the FLSA. Further, since the employee was relieved of all duties, and not restricted in the amount of time they could participate in the activities, the time spent was considered non-compensable “off duty” time.
Employers with wellness programs should review their policies concerning such programs, to ensure they follow the guidance recently outlined by the DOL in this opinion letter to avoid potential FLSA issues.
If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Joyce Mocek at [email protected].