Testing in larger employers is already underway and as part of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown restrictions. Now employers of all sizes can register online to order free lateral flow tests for employees. The initiative is aimed at giving employers and employees peace of mind as around 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 don’t display symptoms which means they could be spreading the virus in workplaces without knowing.
Rapid testing detects cases in around 30 minutes meaning positive cases can isolate immediately, breaking chains of transmission. Some of the main features of the government’s free COVID-19 workplace testing programme are:
- Available to all employers including those with fewer than 50 employees
- Employers encouraged to register interest by 31 March 2021 to access free workplace testing which remains free until the end of June 2021
- Regular testing will be a crucial part of the government’s roadmap to cautiously ease restrictions
An online portal has been launched for employers to find out more about offering rapid workplace testing. Employers will be provided with all the information they need to plan and deliver their testing programme, along with promotional materials.
What do employers need to consider before rolling out testing their staff?
Employers may wish to implement a testing policy for a number of reasons, including to reduce the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in their workforce and to minimise disruption. However, it’s important to strike the right balance between an employer’s legitimate interests in protecting its business and the health and safety of employees, and the personal interests of an employer’s workforce.
Introducing compulsory testing for COVID-19 gives rise to a number of issues. Employers are advised to think carefully before implementing any testing requirement, particularly if they wish to implement regular testing for employees who do not display symptoms of COVID-19. A lax approach by employers to the introduction of testing leaves them open to the risk of damaging relationships with their workforce and also their business’ reputation together with the potential for complaints of unfair dismissal, discrimination and victimisation.
If you are an employer who is thinking of introducing compulsory testing for COVID-19 in your place(s) of work it is recommended that you seek further advice and guidance from a HR expert.
Thousands of businesses have registered their interest in offering rapid testing with many already carrying them out and is seen to be a fundamental tool to bring the pandemic under control and minimising disruption to employers during these challenging times.
If you would like to understand more, please do not hesitate to contact the Alcumus PSM HR team for assistance on 01484 439 930 or email [email protected]
Alcumus PSM (People & Safety Management) specialises in human resources (HR) and health and safety (H&S) consulting for small and medium-sized enterprises.
Written by James Day, HR Consultant