“We value/care about our employees” is one of the most hypocritical statements companies make these days.
(“Our customers are very important to us” is the other.)
The Republican-controlled Congress is pushing through a bill to give corporations the ability to intrude deeper and more personally into your life than ever before.
A little-noticed bill moving through Congress would allow companies to require employees to undergo genetic testing or risk paying a penalty of thousands of dollars, and would let employers see that genetic and other health information. (…) The new bill gets around that landmark law by stating explicitly that GINA and other protections do not apply when genetic tests are part of a ‘workplace wellness’ program.
This mean that, in the name of “wellness,” your boss will know if you were treated for an STD or that you are predisposed for alcoholism, Parkinson’s, cancer, or whatever.
Not only your boss, but the unregulated company that runs your company’s wellness program, but is not constrained by HIPPA rules.
Employers, especially large ones, generally hire outside companies to run them [wellness programs]. These companies are largely unregulated, and they are allowed to see genetic test results with employee names. (…) They sometimes sell the health information they collect from employees.
Can your company actually force you to comply?
No, but the penalty for refusing is costly in the form of higher insurance premiums and co-pays.
No health insurance at your company? You could still take a major financial hit.
If an employer has a wellness program but does sponsor health insurance, rather than increasing insurance premiums, the employer could dock the paychecks of workers who don’t participate.
In general, Corporate America’s attitude towards its employees reflects its attitude towards customers.
For the most part, that ranges from “general nuisance” to “necessary evil.”
And while the number of exceptions to that attitude, at least when it comes to customers, is growing, it doesn’t always apply to employees.
As the provisions of this long-desired bill prove.
That said, it will be a great recruiting tool for those companies that don’t do it.
Image credit: Daniel R. Blume