The Government has announced the expansion of Workplace Covid Testing to organisations with 50 or more employees. The announcement does specifically state ’employees’ but I believe it is likely to also include workers.
The announcement also states that it is for those staff who cannot work from home. My experience has been that many organisations have staff working from home but who go into the “office” from time to time so I think it is likely you could register if your staff are required to occasionally attend the workplace.
If you want to instigate Workplace Covid Testing for your employees you can registered at https://www.gov.uk/get-workplace-coronavirus-tests. It is free of charge.
These are lateral flow tests which provide a result within 30 minutes of the test. Many people infected with Covid 19 show no symptoms but are able to transmit the virus to their colleagues so these tests may help to prevent Covid 19 spreading through your workforce. Of course, if anyone gets a positive test they will be required, by law, to self isolate for 10 days even if they do not have symptoms but, of course, it is better to have one person self isolating than it is to have several members of staff absent with Covid 19. Implementing a self testing regime will also allow you to identify those people who know they ought to be self isolating but who are attending the workplace and spreading the virus to everyone’s detriment.
These tests are self administered so you do not need any training to implement the system. You will need to provide a mirror so staff using a swab can see exactly what they are doing!
Can you insist your staff undergo the tests? Provided the tests are self administered I can currently see no reason why you should not make it a policy for all staff to be tested on a regular basis. Indeed, it is a health and safety precaution and health and safety rules apply to everyone in your organisation. As an employer you are required to do everything reasonable and practical to keep your staff safe – and these tests are reasonable and practical.
It is remotely possible that a member of staff may claim a disability that precludes them from administering the test and if that happens you will need to consider the situation on its own merits.
If you decide to go down the Covid 19 testing route, don’t forget to update your Covid Risk Assessment document – that document is your defence should you ever get a C19 related personal injury claim or a visit from the Health & Safety Executive.
Please ensure the tests are self administered – pinning an employee to the desk and swabbing their nose and throat would constitute assault which is a criminal offence, even if it is well intentioned!
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