COVID-19 rapid workplace testing

Alongside the rollout of the vaccination programme and the continued focus on ‘Hands, Face, Space’, regular testing is a vital tool to stop the transmission of COVID-19 as sections of society are reopened.

Around 1 in 3 people with coronavirus don’t have symptoms, which means they could be spreading the virus in workplaces without knowing it. Rapid testing produces results in under 30 minutes, meaning positive cases can isolate immediately, breaking chains of transmission.

Regular testing could be the difference between a workplace being able to stay open and operational, or needing to close due to a COVID-19 outbreak. It will form a crucial part of the UK Government’s plan to gradually and safely ease restrictions as we get back to a more normal life.

In order to encourage more businesses to take up rapid workplace testing, the Government recently extended eligibility to register for their workplace testing scheme to businesses that employed 50 or more people and remained open in lockdown. Previously, only employers with more than 250 employees were able to participate in the scheme.

Until 12 April, employers were able to register to order free rapid lateral flow tests to test employees with no coronavirus symptoms if the business was registered in England and employed 50 or more people who could not work from home.

At the time of writing, over 3,500 businesses had signed up to offer workplace testing programmes, and over 14,000 had registered their interest in offering rapid testing, with many already rolling tests out.

The expansion of asymptomatic testing is already well underway in larger companies for those who need to leave home to go to work. Both private and public sector employers have signed up to provide rapid testing at asymptomatic testing sites, along with a self-test option for those that cannot access a workplace testing site. This includes the UK’s largest employer, the NHS, those working in adult social care, education staff, and a wide range of other sectors.

Enabling more companies to engage with workplace testing is good news. It will help to protect workers and stifle Covid transmission. Businesses appreciate that regular mass testing could play a vital role in a safe re-opening, helping to build staff confidence and adding a layer of resilience to help firms stay open.

The CBI will continue to work with our members and with Government to ensure that firms have the knowledge and support they need to engage with testing opportunities. Increasing take-up will be vital if we are to continue to meet the timetable set out in the Prime Minister’s roadmap and safely loosen restrictions for summer. Currently, all those who can still work from home should continue to do so.

An online portal has been launched for businesses to find out more about offering rapid workplace testing. Businesses will be provided with all the information they need to plan and deliver their testing programmes, along with promotional materials.

All local authorities in England are now offering rapid lateral flow testing for small businesses that can’t offer rapid workplace testing. Businesses can find their local test site online.

More information on rapid workplace testing is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/get-workplace-coronavirus-tests

For any employment law advice you may need, feel free to contact our solicitors at DPH Legal.