Employers that are welcoming staff back into work may wish to introduce processes and protocols around encouraging their employees to be regularly tested for COVID, to help reduce the spread of the virus and keep employees and customers safe.
The Government is actively encouraging as many employers as possible to sign up to regularly test their employees. It sees this as a key way to reduce the risk of transmission among those who cannot work from home and ensure vital public and economic services can continue.
In fact, some critical workers in England now don’t have to self-isolate if they are contacted by NHS Test and Trace, but can take daily tests instead.
And from 16 August, those who have been fully vaccinated with two doses for at least 14 days will not have to self-isolate if they come into contact with a positive Covid-19 case.
Instead, they will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and advised to take a PCR test. If that test is positive then they must isolate.
The same will apply for all under-18s, meaning entire school classes will no longer have to isolate if one pupil tests positive.
Should an employer wish to introduce a process for regular COVID testing for employees, it is vital they consult with staff well in advance to ensure they understand how the process for testing would work. Questions such as how the testing would be carried out, how the data will be stored, what happens if an employee tests positive and what happens if an employee does not wish to be tested all need to be answered.
In terms of the testing itself, there are three main routes open to employers. All of these take advantage of using readily available lateral flow tests, which give a result in around 30 minutes. It is recommended that employees are tested at least twice a week.
- Employers can set up their own on-site testing programmes, more information about how to do this can be found here
- Businesses can also opt to use a third-party provider, but do ensure that the organisation you use is accredited by the Government
- For organisations that have fewer than 50 employees, there is access to testing through local authorities who are establishing testing sites. More information can be found on each local authority’s website.
There may be a wide range of reasons why an employee is concerned about regular testing for COVID. They may be worried about having to isolate and not be eligible for pay for example, or they may find the idea of regular testing too invasive.
When an employee does voice their concerns or refuse to be tested, then it is important for organisations to listen to their reasoning and work with them to resolve the issue.
If you have any questions about devising a COVID testing policy for employees then our team of employment lawyers would be happy to help. Please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org