In the last blog we looked at Total Worker Health, which describes “a new approach to safeguarding the health and safety of workers.”This month, we want to focus on the Massachusetts legislature General Law Chapter 224: An Act Improving the Quality of Health Care and Reducing Costs through Increased Transparency, Efficiency and Innovation (Chapter 224). The law, which was passed last August, includes key provisions to incentivize employers and insurers to focus on improving health through workplace wellness programs. The Small Business Wellness Tax Credit is available until December 31, 2017. Businesses must apply for certification with the Department of Public Health’s (DPH) and meet their eligibility requirements.
Here is a brief overview of how the tax benefits work. The Tax Credit is equal to 25% of the implementation costs of a “certified wellness program” as defined by the Department of Public Health’s criteria. The maximum credit is $10,000 in any fiscal tax year. Credits are only available to employers with 500 or fewer employees, and who have not been cited by OSHA in five years.
Companies applying for the credit must have wellness programs that promote physical and mental health, fitness, and behavior change measures. They must offer awareness and education to employees, and offer behavior programs to foster lifestyle changes. To that end, a “wellness champion” should be designated who would be responsible for developing and implementing the wellness program.
Wellness awareness and education would be delivered through a variety of mediums, including signage that supports health behavior, such as healthy vending machine options, taking stairs rather than the elevator, noting the quantity of calories in food options; and through the offering of educational classes. Companies may elect to offer assistance with gym subsidies, tobacco cessation programs, free screenings (cholesterol, skin/derma scans), and lifestyle coaching.
WorkTerrain can assist employers with programs on improving employee health and wellness through workplace wellness programs and with taking advantage of the Small Business Wellness Tax Credit. For more information, contact us directly