The Newest Workplace Perk: Genetic Testing

Your Career and Your DNA

When it comes to workplace benefits, you’ve heard of paid time off, 401k and of course health insurance benefits! but the newest up and coming employee perk: genetic testing.

Mathew Caldwell, from Instacart says: “This type of testing is expensive and so we felt that this was an obligation for us to take advantage of. The fact that there are people we care about and we have the resources to help them out.” And helping people is what some employers hope to do by paying for genetic testing for weight and obesity issues or like Instacart, which offers free testing for breast and ovarian cancer.

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It’s fairly simple with third party genetic testing companies mailing employees who sign up a kit- the test takers submits a saliva sample- ship it back to the lab and waits for the results. Testing companies we spoke with say those results stay out of the office.

Othman Laraki, from Color Genomics says: “Employers do not get access to any of the actual health information for their employees, but what they do is that they reduce the barriers for their employees to receive this vital information.” But the National Society of Genetic Counselors warns no one should ever take a genetic test without getting counseling. Mary Freivogel from the National Society of Genetic Counselors warns: “Genetic factors influence risk for disease but they are only one piece of the puzzle, um, they aren’t the entire story, there are a lot of other factors out and so genetic counselors are really key to that.”

Sharon Blynn, a cancer survivor who underwent genetic testing agrees. She says “The awareness of that could lead us to having a healthier lifestyle, so we don’t have to feel immediately fearful or helpless in the face of that information.” Experts say when companies offer genetic testing it can also help employees potentially stay healthier and lower overall heath care costs.

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