- Apple is piloting a genetic testing benefit for employees at its Cupertino, California, headquarters, CNBC reported.
- According to the report, the pilot program allows employees to receive free genetic screenings for diseases from the company's on-site health clinics. Apple views the benefit as a recruiting and retention tool, sources told CNBC.
- The pilot is being offered in partnership with Color Genomics, a population health technology company that provides genetic tests and analysis, CNBC said. Color has entered into similar partnerships with other employers, including Philadelphia-based Jefferson Health.
This latest benefit is part of Apple's larger efforts to improve patient experience for its employees. Over the years, the tech giant expanded its on-site health clinics, which operate under the AC Wellness name, to include a variety of specialists ranging from nurse practitioners to exercise specialists and nutritionists.
Apple is far from the first large company to consider genetic testing. Cisco, for example, announced in 2018 it would begin covering employee testing to identify gene changes associated with breast and ovarian cancer, even if the test isn't medically necessary. Cisco said the benefit is a component of its offerings geared toward working parents and families.
Genetic testing has raised privacy issues in the employment context. Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of genetic information. GINA also prohibits employers from requesting, requiring or purchasing genetic information about applicants or employees, with the exception of six "very limited circumstances," according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
GINA and the Americans with Disabilities Act generally prohibit employers from obtaining and using the health information of employees and their families outside of limited circumstances, such as voluntary wellness programs.
Experts who previously spoke to HR Dive advised employers to update forms that request employee health information, such as those used to verify information for a leave or accommodation request, to ensure those forms communicate that the employer is not asking for genetic information.