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Genetic testing for workplace wellness

With the advancement of healthcare and technology, diseases have also started to evolve. The best example is the COVID-19 pandemic caused by a new type of virus from the Coronavirus family. Every medical institution and doctor is racing to find a cure or a vaccine. However, no significant invention has been made till now and the global advisory is to prevent this contagious and communicable disease by practising social distancing and staying at home- for which countries all around the world have imposed complete lockdown. In such cases, the concern arises as to what kind of disease a person may carry and spread unknowingly. This is one of the important reasons for a company or an employer to require genetic testing of their employers.


Genetic testing, also called DNA testing, is a medical test that diagnoses any kind of change in the DNA sequence or chromosomal structure. Whether the test results are positive or negative, it provides a sense of relief. A workplace is one of the most vulnerable environments where the spread of any disease is so smooth and easy that it escapes the human eye. And suddenly everyone is affected. This is why employers seek the medical records of their employees to eradicate the possibility of social transmission of any disease within their workplace. If the results are negative, genetic testing removes the need for any further unnecessary checkups. If positive, it allows the patient to require treatment at the early stages.


Kristin Madison, a professor in the School of Law and the Bouvé College of Health Sciences at the Northeastern University, elaborates on the bill passed by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce that permits employers to impose large financial penalties on employees who don’t agree to provide genetic test results to their companies’ workplace wellness programs. She also explains the ethical repercussions that this bill possesses, for example, the employer may use the results of an employee’s genetic testing for inappropriate purposes.


Therefore, while genetic testing may hold a lot of advantages for the workplace, the ethical issues in confiscating the private records of any person must be taken into consideration.


Dibyasha Das