Why should you test your workforce?
Well…. the obvious is this…. workplace testing will identify more positive cases of COVID-19 and ensure those infected isolates thereby reducing the spread of the virus and protect those who cannot work from home. This is the GOV.UK advice. The UK Government would like as many employers as possible to sign up to regularly testing their employees and will under certain circumstances provide free tests to employers. So… why wouldn’t you?
Well… good advice from the CBI is that before engaging in testing, businesses need to think carefully about their operations and staff, learning lessons from their response to the pandemic so far to determine what will work best. These questions may help as a starter:
- What type of workplace settings will testing be most useful for?
- Which test will best suit the organisation’s need?
- What will testing enable the organisation to do?
- What are my legal obligations as an employer?
- What will the health and safety requirements be?
- How can I incentivise my workforce to take up testing?
- What are the logistical and practical requirements around the delivery of workplace testing? Do I require additional trained staff to manage the programme?
- How regularly does testing need to be undertaken? How long should I implement testing for?
The UK Government recognises that every employer and every sector is unique, providing 3 options for businesses:
Option 1: An employer-led DIY setup.
Employers can set up their own on-site testing programmes, outside of that which currently exists with the NHS Test and Trace service.
For more information: On Site Testing Program
Option 2: Use a third-party provider.
Employers who would like on-site testing but would prefer an accredited private provider to organise and run the testing on their behalf can partner with one of the providers on the list of providers: Third Party Providers
Employers will need to pay for this service provision but are still eligible to order the free government testing kits by registering to order workplace coronavirus tests. The onus falls upon the employer to ensure that they order the test kits.
In partnering with a third-party provider, responsibility still lies upon the employer to ensure that they register to order a sufficient number of test kits.
Option 3: Community Testing
For organisations in the public and private sector that have fewer than 50 employees, access to testing is through local authorities who are establishing testing sites for those without symptoms within their local areas.
If you are an organisation with fewer than 50 employees, a sole trader, self-employed or a member of the general public, visit your local authority’s website to find out more about their testing services.
So the message is clear…. The UK Government want as many employers as possible to sign up to regularly test their employees. But…… it does remain a voluntary decision for employers to run testing programmes for their staff.