Changes to the Disability Discrimination Act are needed to prevent people
being excluded from the workplace on the strength of genetic test results,
pressure groups and the TUC are warning.
The campaign, spearheaded by genetic ethics group Genewatch, follows the
launch of the Government-backed UK Biobank genetic research project that
intends to lookÊinto individual genetic susceptibility to workplace hazards.
There is no legal protection for an applicant who is rejected for an
inherited predisposition to an illness such as heart disease or cancer. The
Disability Discrimination Act 1995 kicks in only once the symptoms of a disease
affect the individual’s ability to carry out the job.
Genewatch deputy director Helen Wallace said: "Because of this
loophole, the danger that people will be excluded on the basis of genetic tests
is going to outweigh the potential benefits of knowing how workplace conditions
impact on disease."
Wallace, along with disability rights groups, is concerned that employers
could use tests to limit access to occupational pension schemes and other
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "We want the Government to
ensure everyone has an equal right to succeed at work – whatever their genetic
inheritance. We should be promoting opportunities for all, not penalising
people because of their genes."