Voluntary Participation in Employer-Sponsored “Wellness Activities” is Not Compensable Time

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August 28, 2018

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The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued an opinion letter stating that employers are not required to pay employees for time spent voluntarily attending certain wellness program-related activities, including health-based biometric screenings and benefit fairs.

The opinion letter referenced an employer that allowed employees to voluntarily participate in “biometric screening during and outside of regular work hours.” The tests included assessment of an employee’s general health, such as cholesterol levels, nicotine usage, and blood pressure. Employees were also allowed to participate in “wellness activities,” including health-based classes, workout classes, financial literacy courses, and participation in weight management programs. Participation was purely voluntary and unrelated to the employee’s job function, and the employer derived no direct financial benefit.

The DOL stated that participation in these activities was predominantly for the benefit of the Employee. Moreover, employees were not required to perform any job-related tasks while engaging in these activities, and were relieved of all duties if occurring during working time (e.g., rest periods). Therefore, these activities were noncompensable “off-duty” time, unless otherwise occurring during a company-provided rest period as required under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Action Items

  1. Review the DOL’s opinion here.
  2. Have voluntary wellness programs reviewed to ensure employee time spent is noncompensable, yet consistent with wage and hour requirements.
  3. Subscribers can call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456 for further assistance.

Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.

© 2018 ManagEase

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