Businesses with over 50 employees are being encouraged to bring in rapid coronavirus testing in the workplace. How does it work?
The government is recommending that where it’s essential to have staff on site, businesses in England should provide rapid coronavirus testing in the workplace. This would be helpful where there are large numbers of staff who cannot work from home such as in:
The benefit of implementing a programme of testing is that one in three who have the virus is asymptomatic. Without the testing of asymptomatic staff, the virus could spread unchecked.
The type of coronavirus testing described is a lateral flow test. A swab of the nose and throat is put through a simple analytic process and gives a result in about half an hour. Previously, only those firms with more than 250 staff qualified for free government supplied test packs but now the criteria have been loosened to cover those with more than 50 employees.
Note. There are differences of approach across the four nations. To ensure that you have current information for your area, check out the applicable national government rules at the time you want to introduce a testing programme.
Tip 1 – Local authorities have also been supplied with millions of coronavirus testing kits for community use. If you have fewer than 50 staff but feel you would benefit from participation, ask your local council if it can help.
Tip 2 – To register in England go to the dedicated website where you’ll receive information about the procedures required including the setup of the testing area, personal protective equipment, etc. More general guidance from the government on testing in the workplace can be found here.
When providing such a programme, each employee will have the choice of whether to participate and will need to self-register with their phone number and email address on an online portal.
If you decide to carry out testing in the workplace there are several factors that need to be considered. ACAS has provided some good advice for employers which can be found here.
You cannot make it compulsory for staff to take part.