COVID testing and particularly lateral flow, rapid testing is being talked about a lot lately as part of the strategy to get life in England back to some kind of normality as we slowly exit lockdown.
Workplace testing continues to be extended with businesses able to access free testing for employees who do not display symptoms of COVID-19 in a number of different ways.
If your business is looking to set up workplace testing then it is important to understand how to access tests, what to do if testing identifies a positive case of COVID-19 and how else to work safely during COVID-19.
How to order lateral flow tests for workplace testing
You can order free rapid lateral flow tests from the government. You will need to register your business to enable you to order free testing.
You can register if:
- your business is registered in England
- your employees cannot work from home
To access testing, you must register your business by 11:59pm on the 12th April.
If your business is closed or you won’t need to administer tests immediately, you must still register your business by the 12th April so that you can order tests in the future.
We recently looked at the ways in which business can access testing for their employees including
- on site testing
- ordering tests for employees which can be collected from the workplace and completed by employees at home
- community testing
Which testing set up you use for your business will depend on factors such as employee numbers and whether you have capacity to set up on site testing on your premises or not. Full guidance about your obligations when it comes to workplace testing can be found on the gov.uk website which should be referred to and guidance adhered to when setting up workplace COVID-19 testing.
How often should staff be tested?
The current guidance from the government is for businesses to aim to test their staff a minimum of twice a week.
When staff complete a test they must register that test using the NHS system. Accounts can be created, and details saved so as not to have to repeat the whole process each time they are tested.
Remember – workplace testing is to be used for those who do not display symptoms of COVID-19. If employees do display COVID-19 symptoms then they will need to follow the correct process for symptomatic testing which involves booking a COVID-19 PCR test through NHS test and trace.
What happens if a member of staff returns a positive test result?
If your workplace testing scheme identifies a positive test result, the staff member that tests positive must legally self-isolate immediately, following NHS guidance. The individual must inform their workplace if they receive a positive test. They should also engage with NHS Test and Trace and provide details of their recent contacts for contact tracing.
As an employer, you also have a duty if one of your employees tests positive. Employers are encouraged to
- Contact Public Health England and/or their local authority for guidance on contact tracing
- Communicate with their workforce about potential or confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 amongst their colleagues. No names should be communicated and you must ensure that no personal data is shared unlawfully
What other COVID secure working practices should businesses follow?
As well as enabling your staff to access regular rapid lateral flow testing to help identify asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 and help stop the spread or the virus, it is also important that as a workplace you adhere to COVID secure guidance and best working practice.
Amongst other areas this includes
- Adhering to social distancing guidance
- Use of masks where necessary
- Encouraging good hygiene amongst employees such as regular and thorough handwashing
- Ensuring adequate ventilation in the workplace
Your business will need to adhere to the relevant COVID-secure workplace guidance for your sector – there are 14 guides covering a variety of different types of work so use the one or more that apply to your business.
As lockdown begins to ease and more businesses can reopen from the 12th April, if you have any questions about an existing business insurance policy or are reviewing your business insurance needs at this time do not hesitate to get in touch with our team of friendly experts who will be more than happy to help. Contact us on 020 8290 9080 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.