In an attempt to lower health insurance costs and build a healthier workforce, the Franklin County Wellness Committee may implement a voluntary wellness program July 1 where employees can earn up to 40 hours of paid time off for participating in wellness activities.
“Every year we see a huge increase in the premiums for health insurance,” Deputy Judge-Executive Jennifer Wilson, who chairs the wellness committee, told The State Journal after Monday’s committee meeting. “If we can help one employee and prevent them from having a heart attack, then not only is that good for the employee but also for our health insurance claims. Then we could keep our costs down and continue to provide benefits to our employees.”
Employees could earn time off for things like attending wellness seminars, going to the gym or participating in a 5k.
The wellness program would also include a free 13-week smoking cessation program, sponsored by the Franklin County Health Department. Participating employees would receive free nicotine patches, gum or lozenges, and those that complete the program would earn four hours of paid time off, and four additional hours for each quarter they remain tobacco-free.
As part of the kick-off, complimentary wellness screenings and lipid profiles would be offered to each participating employee.
There will also be the “Weight Loss Challenge,” where participating employees would compete to see who could lose the most weight. Prizes would be awarded to the three who lose the largest percentage of their starting weight, and four hours of paid time off would be granted to each participant.
The Sheriff’s Office will also offer a physical fitness test that includes a 1.5-mile run, sit-up and push-up tests, 300-meter run and a bench press test. Depending on what an employee scores, they could earn up to 16 hours of paid time off.
Employees can only earn up to 40 hours of paid time off in one fiscal year. Unused “wellness hours” won’t roll over to the next year.
The Wellness Committee, comprised of representatives from each county department, has been meeting for the past several weeks to design a wellness program that would meet employees’ fitness and nutritional needs.
Wilson said she hopes to have the wellness program on the agenda for the next Fiscal Court meeting May 24.