Testing Employees for COVID-19: Is it Necessary?

Coronavirus continues to shape and redefine our lives and workplaces as we move closer to the second full year of a global pandemic. While things are undoubtedly better than they were twelve months ago, the threat of COVID-19 to our communities remains very real and leaves business owners with serious considerations:

Should we be regularly testing our employees for COVID-19? Is mandatory testing legal? How will our employees react?

These questions can lead to a lot of consternation and uncertainty for employees and business owners alike. On a fundamental level, more testing is always a good thing from a public health perspective, but that isn’t the only factor to consider. This article will discuss some of the most important issues to consider when regularly testing employees for COVID-19.

 

Benefits of Testing Employees

The answer to the question “Should I test my employees for COVID?” will vary based on individual circumstances, however, the answer in general should be “Yes!”

In the interest of public health, more prevalent testing is the only way to accurately identify those who are contagious with COVID-19, and better, more accurate data on who is infected is probably the single most important tool for controlling and limiting the spread of this virus. Research shows that one in three people carry the COVID-19 virus but they do not necessarily experience symptoms, nor know they are infected. Therefore, testing is the only way to identify these individuals and prevent spreading the illness to co-workers.

 

Discussing with Your Employees

While testing employees is an essential and basic safety measure for the sake of public health, it should not be done in such a way that frustrates, confuses, or aggravates staff. Before putting any official measures in place, some very important topics must be discussed with your staff, official trade union, or other relevant representatives. Some of the important topics to consider are:

  • How should testing be performed?
  • How will staff l receive the results from testing?
  • What is the official procedure for when an employee tests positive
  • How will a positive test (and subsequent quarantine and possible work from home) affect the individual’s pay or their record for time off and sick days?
  • How will testing data be used, stored, and deleted in line with data protection laws?

Once these topics have been discussed and your staff are entirely in the loop, any official decision must be documented and distributed to your employees. If one or more employees disagree with the testing mandates you’d like to implement, be sure to get legal advice before officially implementing any policies.

Lastly, for best results and to minimise staff objections, don’t make a positive COVID test a punishment. If employees are worried that testing positive will cut their hours, lower their pay, or use up precious sick days , they are more likely to resist testing. Instead, providing COVID specific paid time off will go a long way in getting your employees on your side.

 

Testing Options

When it comes to actually implementing a testing policy, there are a number of options available, and there are a few things to consider before choosing the method that suits your business and your individual circumstances best.

 

Lateral Flow Testing

Lateral Flow Testing is an ideal option for a variety of reasons – it typically offers results within 30 minutes, it doesn’t require a lab, and it is designed to be completed with little to no special training or expertise. Any employee who tests positive should immediately isolate at home to avoid spreading the infection to others.

Option 1 – D.I.Y. Testing
We have established that lateral flow testing is an ideal method for testing employees, but how do you get the test kits to them in the first place?
The first option is to simply set it up yourself. If you can acquire a reliable supply of testing kits, it is as easy as storing the kits on-site and setting up distribution and testing policies as a standard office protocol. This solution is more geared towards work environments with fewer workers and may not be practical for every workplace.

Option 2 – Third-Party Provider
If setting up testing on your own is too daunting or complicated, you may find and contact a third-party COVID testing provider to handle all your COVID testing needs.

Option 3 – Community Testing
Lastly, organizations that are made up of fewer than 50 employees are entitled to take advantage of public testing facilities run by local authorities. If you run a small business, or if you are self-employed, you can check your local authority’s website to find out where your local testing stations are.

 

Still Have Doubts or Questions? We are Here to Help!

At MSI Clinics, we’re committed to offering flexible solutions for our corporate clients. Whether you’re looking for a company-wide bespoke package, individual testing, or home testing kits.

We are able to facilitate both in-house testing for employees, or alternatively, they are welcome to attend our private clinic spaces, located in London Bridge and Chelsea.

We are on the UK UKAS accredited, government private provider list for all COVID-19 testing services.

MSI Clinics has been set up to help return life to normal, in a way that is safe, by offering COVID-19 testing services to holiday makers, business travellers as well as to support employers in getting their workforce back on-track.

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