Genetic Testing in Insurance and Employment

Introduction

Use of genetic test results by employers will be restricted by the Equality Act 2010, which restricts what employers can ask about in pre-employment medical checks. It means that employers can only ask for information that is directly relevant to the applicant's ability to carry out the work, or needed to make 'reasonable adjustments' to the workplace to enable a particular person to work there (as required by law).

This allays concerns that employers could use predictive genetic test results to decide who gets a job, an issue highlighted in a Joint Statement of Concern in 2006.

The EU's Lisbon Treaty also states (in Article 21) that any discrimination based on genetic features shall be prohibited in the European Union.

A voluntary moratorium, agreed between the Government and the insurance industry, also limits insurers' access to genetic test results. However, it is unclear what will happen when the moratorium ends in 2017.

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