Workplace testing for businesses with more than 50 employees
In an effort to ramp up workplace testing for Covid-19, the Government has recently announced that businesses, which are open during lockdown and employ more than 50 employees, are entitled to order rapid lateral flow tests. These tests produce results within 30 minutes. Previously, only businesses with more than 250 employees qualified for this type of workplace testing under the Government scheme.
The Government hopes to encourage those sectors that are vital to the running of the economy (and whose employees cannot work from home during lockdown) to roll out workplace testing for all employees, whether or not they are showing symptoms of Covid-19.
The Government suggests that around one in three people who have Covid-19 have no symptoms and may be unknowingly spreading the virus. Accordingly, an increase in workplace testing should help to limit the risk of transmission.
If your business is open and has more than 50 employees, you can sign up to the workplace testing scheme here.
Employers have a duty to protect the health and safety of their employees. Accordingly, for those employees that cannot work from home, a request that they take a rapid lateral flow test in the workplace is likely to be deemed a reasonable management instruction. With that being said, it is important to note that these tests can be uncomfortable and invasive and need to be taken frequently. Therefore, before considering disciplinary action in respect of an employee refusing to take the test, employers should carefully consider: the employee’s reason for refusing; their individual circumstances; and any mitigating factors.