medical privacy in the workplace
16.04.2010 - 16.04.2010 14 °C
My company is providing free medical exams to all employees this weekend. It is an annual service, paid for by each department, and completely voluntary. I took my medical exam papers down to the 9th floor where a local hospital had set up clinic for all the different tests. It was full of people waiting in long lines to take each test.
Free annual medical exams, with blood tests, EKG's and everything are a great service...but I really feel uncomfortable with the idea that my company keeps a copy of its employees' annual medical exams. I decided not to participate because I don't think my company needs or should have a copy of any of my medical records. Besides, I am required to have all the same tests done in a few weeks when I renew my work permit and get a new resident permit to stay in China for a third year.
I'm not up to date on China's anti-discrimination laws, but last I knew it was legal to discriminate based on sexual orientation. A colleague told me that it is common for an employer to require a medical exam before signing a contract with a new employee, and that they can base their hiring decisions on the results of such exams. Of course if someone has a condition or disability that prevents them from fulfilling the duties of a job then they should not be hired, but I don't know any blind people who are pursuing careers as pilots or bus drivers.
An individual's medical status affects both them and their employer, and there are pros and cons for both. Should your HR department know if you have high blood pressure or cholesterol? Should they know your HIV status or the history of cancer in your family? Where is the line between promoting a healthy workforce and medical privacy? Should your CV include your most recent EKG graphs?
Once again, the differences between China and America allow me to evaluate what I think, challenge the status quo of American culture, and consider practicality above politics.