Updated Guidance for Employers: testing staff and Coronavirus
The Government’s guidance for employers regarding employees and testing for Covid-19 was updated on 8 October
Sejal Patel, Solicitor,
Lawson-West Solicitors’ employment team
Sejal Patel comments:
“Employers need to be careful not to single-out staff for testing who do not show symptoms and compulsory testing for all employees could disproportionately affect those who fall into certain protected groups (for example, those with certain disabilities), and requiring only those at higher risk to be tested could result in claims of discrimination. Employers should think about the potential discriminatory effects of testing and ensure these are justified as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. However, if you suspect that a member of staff has Covid-19 symptoms, or where someone in their household or social network is known to have symptoms, requiring testing, then it is an employer’s obligation to act and discuss the possibility of isolation and testing with the individual.”
Testing of employees
There are currently 2 methods for collecting samples for COVID-19, that apply for both virus and antibody testing:
Point of care tests
A sample is collected by a fully trained and qualified healthcare professional in a medical or laboratory setting, rather than by the person being tested; and
Self-administered/assisted sampling tests
The sample is collected by the person having the test (self-administered) or by someone else (assisted) in a home or non-laboratory environment like a police station, care home or drive-through centre.
For symptomatic staff, a virus test should be carried out as soon as possible and, in all events, within the first five days of having symptoms. Employers can also refer symptomatic staff for NHS virus testing through the Employer Referral Portal.
Communicating a positive virus test case to the workforce
Employers are encouraged to keep staff informed about potential or confirmed COVID-19 cases amongst their colleagues. However, they should not name individuals, and should not unlawfully share anyone's personal data (unless the infected person wishes it to be shared).
If there has been a confirmed case in the workplace, the employer is obligated to communicate this to other employees so that they also have an opportunity to be tested.
NHS Test and Trace Service
The NHS Test and Trace service is for those who display symptoms of COVID-19 or who have been advised to take a test by a medical practitioner or public service.
NHS Test and Trace will not generally contact employers unless two or more new COVID-19 cases are linked to a workplace setting. If an employer identifies that there is more than one case of COVID-19 on your premises, they should contact their local Health Protection Team.
Contact Us, if you are unsure how to deal with suspected cases in your workplace or you need additional employment law advice at this time due to coronavirus.View all