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Workplace Testing for Coronavirus (COVID-19) - reviewed advice

ACAS has reviewed its guidance on workplace testing for coronavirus (COVID-19), suggesting that while there is no law that says staff must be tested for COVID-19 and in most situations it is not necessary, some employers might want to bring in testing as part of their workplace policy.

If an employer wants to test staff for COVID-19, they should first talk with either:

  • staff

  • a recognised trade union or other employee representatives.

Areas to discuss should include:

  • How testing would be carried out.

  • How staff would get their test results.

  • The process to follow if someone tests positive for COVID-19.

  • 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).

According to the guidance, 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.

The guidance also gives advice on what to do if staff are worried about testing, and how to protect personal data. Resolving issues about staff testing is also covered.

The reviewed guidance is available here. ACAS May 2021

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