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Workplace wellness grant
The program provides funding for employers to establish training and programs to reduce health risk factors specific to their employees

Please note that the deadline for employers to submit Workplace Wellness Grant applications for fiscal year 2020 is March 31, 2020. Details for future applications and deadlines will be announced at a later date. 

Employers wanting to improve the health and wellness of their workers can benefit from the Workplace Wellness Grant Program (WWGP). It provides funding to assist employers in establishing training and programs to reduce health risk factors specific to their employees.

BWC established WWGP to study the effect of a wellness program in the workplace on bringing down incidence and cost of accidents and illnesses. The goal is to control the escalating cost of workers' compensation claims through addressing health risk factors. The WWGP's collateral goals are also to reduce health-care costs for employers, as well as improve the health of the workforce.

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Purpose

We've established this program to meet the challenges of obesity, rising incidence of chronic diseases and the aging workforce. This program will assist employers with the creation and implementation of a workplace wellness program. The goal is to limit and control the escalating cost of workers' compensation claims by helping employers develop health promotion programs for their employees. The secondary goals are to reduce health-care costs for employers, and improve the health and well-being of the workforce.

Who's eligible

Below is a list of eligibility requirements to receive a workplace wellness grant.

  • Be a state-fund employer
  • Be current on monies owed to BWC – not more than 45 days past due
  • Maintain active coverage – not more than 40 days lapsed in the prior 12 months
  • Do not have a wellness program

Note: Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs) eligibility:

  • State-fund employers who are in a PEO/client relationship are generally not eligible to apply for a workplace wellness grant. In order to apply for a grant, the client employer must demonstrate that the employees participating in the workplace wellness program are employees covered under the client employer’s BWC policy.
  • PEOs are eligible for workplace wellness grants under their own policy number. A PEO can only use these for operations owned/operated by it and not for any client employer.

A workplace wellness program consists of the following tools:

  • A health-risk appraisal (HRA) and a biometric assessment – both of which measure health-risk factors;
  • Programs designed to address those health-risk factors.

If an employer only has one of these tools, then it does not have an existing wellness program and is eligible to apply for the workplace wellness grant. If the employer has both tools listed above, we consider that an existing wellness program and the employer is not eligible to receive a workplace wellness grant.

Participation requirements

Once approved for a grant, you must contract with a third-party wellness program vendor. You also must share aggregated data related to your employees' health-risk factors and costs with us, and demonstrate proper use of grant awards and effective implementation of your wellness program. We will subsequently use the data to determine the effectiveness of the wellness program on workers' compensation claims frequency, claims costs and the timeliness of post-injury return to work.

You also agree to allow us to inspect original program records of wellness program participants upon demand and on-site in the event that questions arise regarding participation. You agree to provide us access to information to help us measure the effectiveness of the wellness program. You will allow us to use grant program results in the following ways, but not limited to, literature, data, videos, specifications and/or photos for the purposes of illustrating, educating, and training employers and employees.

Fund details

Participating employers may receive $300 per participating employee over a four-year period, up to a maximum amount of $15,000 per policy. We define participating employee as someone who completes an HRA and biometric screening in the first three months of the first year and each of the subsequent years of the grant program. In addition, employees must participate in at least one activity to improve or maintain their health in each program year. We divide the $300 over the four years per employee as follows.

Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Total
$100 $75 $75 $50 $300 per employee

Grant-fund use

Employers must use wellness grant funds to compensate the external wellness program vendor for providing HRA biometric screenings and subsequent activities designed to address the results of the screening and assessment. These activities include, but are not limited to, weight-loss management programs, educational seminars on improving health, physical fitness activities and nutritional counseling to benefit the participating employees. Employers must provide us with documentation showing the use of the awarded funds. The documentation is due to us within three months reporting the aggregate HRA/biometric data elements and the employee data. It may include, but is not limited to, original invoices and canceled checks. Employers must provide us with receipt documentation showing the use of the awarded funds. The HRA and biometric screening receipt documentation is due to us within three months after reporting the aggregate HRA/biometric data elements and the employee data. The receipt documentation for the health promotion programs/activities is due with OR prior to submission of the annual case study report. Both may include, but are not limited to, original invoices and canceled checks.

Below are examples of health promotion programs and activities which are covered by the grant funds. Your external wellness vendor must develop and implement these programs and activities.

  • Health risk appraisals
  • Biometric screenings
  • Smoking cessation classes which may include smoking patches
  • Weight management classes
  • Weight loss challenges
  • Exercise classes
  • Nutrition classes
  • Walking programs
  • Educational materials for the classes (booklets, videos)
  • Lunch and learns
  • Disease prevention training

Below are examples of items which cannot be purchased with grant funds.

  • Flu shots
  • Medicine
  • T-shirts
  • Incentive items
  • Pedometers, with the exception of those used for walking programs
  • Yoga mats
  • Water bottles
  • Baseball caps
  • Food, with the exception of cooking demonstrations
  • Exercise equipment

The lists above are not exhaustive. Contact the Division of Safety & Hygiene with questions regarding if an activity is covered under this grant program.

Employers may not use funds to cover salaries, wages, internal labor or any costs associated with preparing the application. We will hold a company responsible for using the grant in the intended manner. An employer may face civil and/or criminal sanctions if he or she misappropriates and/or misuses grant funds or misrepresents information when submitting a request for grant funds or any documents submitted for securing grant funds.

BWC and IRS requirements

IRS 1099 requirement - All grant recipients will be issued a 1099 for their BWC paid grant funds. This does not preclude employers from providing BWC proof of spending verification for the use of the grant funds. Verification includes itemized invoices and copies of all bank cleared checks (front and back) to support all invoices associated with the workplace wellness grant program biometric screening and HRAs. This documentation must be submitted within three months of reporting this data each year. All invoices and copies of bank cleared checks (front and back) for the health promotion programs and activities must be submitted by the case study date.

Note: The issuance of a 1099 does not preclude BWC from seeking administrative, civil and/or criminal sanctions if you do not reimburse the bureau all unused grant money and/or funds deemed misappropriated.

Obligation during change of ownership

If the employer sells, merges or combines its business after receiving a grant but before completing the annual case study, our Successorship Liability Policy will go into effect.

  • The grant/predecessor employer is responsible for notifying the successor employer of the obligations under the WWGP.
  • The successor employer may be liable to repay any and all previously paid grant monies if these obligations are not met.

Disqualification

If for any reason the employer participating in the program fails to satisfy one or more of the criteria established in the application and instructions, legal agreement and the Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) 4123-17-56.1, including but not limited to; the requirement of maintaining active coverage, timely payments therefore, and the obligations described in the employer responsibilities and requirements for each year of participation, we may disqualify the employer from the program. Disqualification means the termination of our obligations under this agreement, and we reserve the right to recover grant monies by one or more of the following methods: billing the employer for the grant money received; forwarding to the Office of the Attorney General of Ohio for collection; set-off; recoupment, or other civil and/or legal remedy.

How to apply

The employer must complete the online grant application, so we can understand your workplace wellness goals, the steps you've taken in the past, and the methods you'll use to measure program effectiveness. We'd like to learn of any wellness efforts undertaken at your workplace and any efforts you'd like to undertake. We also want to know about any challenges and pushback encountered by past wellness efforts. The more we learn, the better we can measure the outcome and successes of your program at the end of the four years.

Note: Each eligible applicant must complete the Safety Management Self-Assessment (SH-26) online when applying. We'll use the information to identify opportunities to improve your safety and claims-management processes. We require this assessment for many of our programs, so if you have filled this out in the last year for another program we won't require you to complete one for another year.

Program document requirements

  • Agreement between BWC/employer
  • Vendor information form, direct deposit form and a W-9 tax form to Ohio Shared Services

The agreement