Firms' Genetic Tests on Staff Should Be Illegal, Say Experts

By Steve Connor Science Editor | The Independent (London, England), July 15, 1999 | Go to article overview
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Firms' Genetic Tests on Staff Should Be Illegal, Say Experts


Steve Connor Science Editor, The Independent (London, England)


THE GOVERNMENT should act to stop employers from genetically testing their staff to predict their future health, an advisory commission said yesterday.

Such tests - which are currently legal and not subject to legislation - might otherwise become a routine way to estimate workers' future absenteeism, it warned.

A study by the Human Genetics Advisory Commission found only one employer which uses genetic tests now, but the practice may become more widespread as the tests become cheaper.

"We have heard expert opinion that genetic testing may become relevant to employment in the future, although it is difficult to predict the time scale," says the commission's report.

Scientists are on the verge of unravelling the entire genetic makeup of mankind as part of the international Human Genome Project, which is leading to the development of a new generation of genetic tests.

In future, employers might try to assess workers' likely illnesses based on a genetic analysis, making the tests a valuable tool for assessing future labour costs.

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Firms' Genetic Tests on Staff Should Be Illegal, Say Experts
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