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Workplace Testing for Coronavirus (COVID-19)

According to this ACAS guidance, there's no law that says staff must be tested for Coronavirus (COVID-19) and in most situations it's not necessary it says.

However, some employers might want to bring in testing as part of their workplace policy.

Employers in England can register for rapid lateral flow tests for employees on GOV.UK.

If an employer wants to test staff for Coronavirus, they should first talk with either:

  • staff

  • a recognised trade union or other employee representatives.

It's a good idea to discuss:

  • How testing would be carried out.

  • How staff would get their test results.

  • The process to follow if someone tests positive for Coronavirus.

  • Pay if someone needs to self-isolate but cannot work from home.

  • How someone's absence would be recorded if they need to take time off work.

  • How testing data will be used, stored and deleted, in line with data protection law (UK GDPR).

Any decision after that discussion should be:

  • Put in writing, for example in a workplace policy.

  • Made in line with the organisation's existing disciplinary and grievance policy.

If the employer cannot reach agreement with staff, it's a good idea to get legal advice before bringing in a testing policy.

If staff are tested, everyone must still:

  • Follow working safely guidelines.

  • Self-isolate if they have symptoms or test positive for Coronavirus.

The guidance also addresses what to do if staff are worried about testing. Advice is given on protecting personal data.

If someone does not agree to be tested, the employer should listen to their concerns. It's important for the employer to be flexible and try to find ways to resolve any issues.

It can help for the employer and employee to talk about:

  • The reason the employee does not want to get tested.

  • What might help resolve the issue.

  • Any other options that mean the employee would not need to get tested, for example if they're able to work from home.

The guidance is available here.

ACAS March 2021

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