It has never been a better time to implement safety, and health testing procedures within your company as offices throughout the country are returning to work. As a result, your employees will feel more confident about returning to work, and infection outbreaks will be reduced.

What are the benefits of testing employees?

Including a testing process in your office will reduce the spread of illness and, consequently, the number of absences due to illness and provide your employees with peace of mind.

Despite there being no legal requirement to test employees before returning to work, with the spread of Omicron and the requirement to self-isolate if positive, the motivation to test employees is growing. The virus may be spread unknowingly by employees who unknowingly spread it to others who are ill and therefore need to take time off due to illness. A regular testing schedule for your employees is best to avoid this.

Many people are still afraid of COVID-19, and they are readjusting to life as usual. It is known that the pandemic has severe mental health effects, disproportionately affecting young adults, women, and ethnic minorities. The ability to demonstrate your concern for employees’ health and well-being through a testing program could enable you to help those in your population who are struggling.

Compared to the costs of sick leave, establishing a testing program is relatively inexpensive. Purchasing a rapid test kit can only cost you a few dollars, but a sick day can cost a company more. 

A variety of workplace tests can be administered to employees

Instances of COVID-19 outbreaks can be prevented with unsupervised, at-home tests, such as Medriva’s Rapid Antigen Test. Employees will be able to pick up many tests delivered to their offices as needed. The company will also deliver tests directly to the employees’ homes. Management and verification of test results are essential for a successful testing program.

Making the right decision about workplace testing

The government’s latest workplace guidance (for maintaining safety) does not explicitly include workplace testing among the steps employers should take. If employers decide to conduct testing, it is up to them.

Although, the government recommends that employers of workers in the private sector make sure their employees (onsite employees) perform tests at least twice a week to detect lateral flow to know which of them are infected with the virus having or showing no symptoms. Employees may ask about testing whenever employers discuss return to work plans as more workplaces become more accessible to more employees. Employees working from home should not take the tests since they were designed for testing at work. Alternatively, suppose tests are not available from their employers. In that case, a free lateral flow test can be performed at home by anyone in the UK, although devolved nations have different testing requirements.

Asymptomatic testing has the great benefit of identifying cases that would otherwise be undetected and self-isolating those people, decreasing the risk of transmission risks at work. COVID-19 infection cannot be prevented by the vaccine 100 percent perfectly, and the effect of its transmission is still being studied. Vaccinated employees should be tested in the same way as others.

Testing at work

Tests offered voluntarily

Companies have already started implementing workplace testing programs voluntarily. By positioning workplace testing as an additional health and safety measure that complements other COVID secure measures. Your plan should be discussed with your employees – explain why they should be tested and how it will benefit them. Also, you should listen to their opinions.  Staff must be reminded of other COVID-secured protocols so that they don’t mistakenly assume that the testing eventually replaces or relaxes them.

To this end, the government recommends discussing the below-mentioned with employees:

  • The purpose of establishing a testing program
  • Voluntary (intentional) or mandatory participation in the program
  • How the testing program affects employees who refuse to participate
  • Employees need to know what they need to do next after receiving the results, including a note from their employer saying that they must isolate themselves if they have to join work (or do other work-related activities) during their isolation periods (failing this may attract a minimum penalty of £50))
  • During the process, staff may seek any advice on the rights they think are important for them
  • If the staff has any questions about their data collection, they will be able to express their concerns.

What is the procedure for making testing mandatory?

Mandatory testing may be an option for some employers. Since workplace testing is not required by law, employers who wish to compel their employees to participate in workplace testing must utilize other means. While lateral flow tests are not as controversial as requiring the employees to have all COVID vaccinations, they require employees to swab their noses and throats. These are potentially unpleasant and invasive procedures.

Recruits could be required to agree to regular testing at the workplace before being offered a job by their employers. If a person is unwilling to test himself for medical, religious, or personal reasons, then such a policy would need to be flexible. Employees who are already employed are in a more difficult position. To take a workplace test is no doubt a reasonable and lawful instruction; employers may wish to rely on this argument. Moreover, the question of what is reasonable will depend on the risks and implications of COVID in particular settings. It will depend on the workforce and workplace in question. In situations where it doesn’t look feasible to implement other COVID-safe measures, mandatory testing may be appropriate. As workplace testing becomes more common, the notion of what is reasonable may also vary from time to time. For now, it may become tough to justify requiring all staff to be tested.

When an employee takes a test, are they entitled to pay for the time spent?

Employers who want to test their employees in the workplace will somehow have to compensate them especially for their time – especially since the testing takes place over the entire day. The employee will be completely away from their workstations for a short period from an efficiently run testing center. If employers are not willing to pay employees for the time they spend at the testing center, the employee may decide not to take any test.

Instead of setting up an onsite testing center, can my employees take tests their selves at home?

When employees are asked to take tests at their homes, they must be responsible for performing their tests and then should report the correct results. Employers can monitor which employee is being tested at an onsite testing center, but results are sent to each individual, not to their employer, unless it has consented. Employees must report positive tests.

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