More employers are now eligible to participate in the government’s workplace Covid19 testing scheme. Around a third of those with Covid19 have no symptoms and will therefore unknowingly spread the virus. This can be a major concern for employers in industries where workers are unable to work from home. It can cause the rapid spread of the virus. The increase of workplace Covid19 testing will help to tackle this issue.
The government initiated a boost in rapid flow workplace testing amongst all public and private sectors such as transport and manufacturing that are able to remain open during the lockdown. Health secretary, Matt Hancock, announced earlier this month that the programme will be opened up to smaller employers. Since February 7th all businesses with 50 or more employees were able to apply for the rapid workplace testing scheme. Before this, only those with over 250 employees were able to participate.
More than 2.5 million rapid flow tests have already been distributed and an online portal has been launched to help more businesses get involved. The UK has ordered more than 384 million kits at the cost of around £1.3 billion, highlighting the importance that this testing will have on reducing the spread. The government has not made it mandatory for testing to take place. Instead, they are leaving it up to the employer. However, they have urged employers to consider testing as a critical measure of combatting the virus. It should be considered just as important as the vaccine, sanitising, wearing masks, and socially distancing to help reduce the spread.
Unlike the PCR tests, which are expensive, take time, and require professional analysis at a lab, rapid flow tests can give results in as little as 30 minutes. They are small and portable which makes them ideal to use within workplaces to test employees.
The 30-minute lateral flow tests will be available to employees without symptoms who cannot work from home. When employees turn up to work they can take the test. If they test positive they will be able to get the appropriate care, isolate and reduce the chance of spreading the virus to others immediately. If they test negative they can continue to work.
If you are to implement this rapid workplace testing you will need a policy in place that addresses the process, data protection rights, confidentiality, and employee relations.
It is important to involve employees in the process for better results. Explain the necessity and importance of workplace testing to your company and to the safety of your employees. You should also listen to your employees’ views on the matter.
Some employees may be unwilling to be tested for fear of victimisation. It is a legal requirement to self-isolate following a positive test or after coming into contact with someone who has tested positive. Employees may be worried about lost wages if they isolate following a positive test. It is important to have a way to confidentially notify staff about a positive test. Plus, employers should clearly address how they will deal with employees’ wages if they do have to isolate and therefore miss work.
Rapid workplace testing will play a vital role in the next few months as more of us begin to return to the workplace. It will help to identify asymptomatic cases and reduce the spread of the virus, helping us to get back to normality as soon as possible. If your business is eligible, you should consider applying for rapid-flow workplace Covid19 testing.
You can apply for rapid workplace testing through the government’s online portal. However, please get in touch with us at HPC for further advice on workplace testing available or if you require guidance on how to apply. We offer Health & Safety advice which will help to ensure that you protect your staff by offering them a safe working environment. We also make sure you are safe and compliant with your legal obligations and policies.
If you have any concerns or would like to discuss the Disciplinary Process further, please get in contact with the HPC team today
T: 0844 800 5932