Employers urged to test their staff as lockdown eases

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Date: 23 March 2021

A lateral flow COVID test strip

The government is asking businesses to make sure their employees take COVID-19 tests on a regular basis to prevent the spread of the virus.

Employers are being offered three ways to organise COVID-19 tests for their staff. They can set up their own testing programme using lateral flow tests, they can use a third-party private sector provider or they can arrange for their staff to attend community test sites. It is recommended that staff are tested twice a week.

However, time is running out for those businesses that want to test their staff on-site - they must register to order coronavirus test for their employees by 31 March 2021. These tests are for staff without symptoms. Any employee with coronavirus symptoms must stay at home and arrange to take a PCR test.

Although this is a voluntary programme, the government said: "We want as many employers as possible to sign up to regularly test their employees. This will reduce the risk of transmission among those who cannot work from home and ensure vital public and economic services can continue."

Around one in three people who are infected with COVID-19 have no symptoms. Broadening testing to identify those showing no symptoms will mean finding positive cases more quickly, and break chains of transmission.

Lateral flow testing is a simple way to test people who do not have symptoms of COVID-19. The tests are easy to use and give results in less than 30 minutes.

Those organisations that want to use a private sector provider can find a list of approved providers on the government website. Employers will need to pay for this provision but they are still eligible to order the free government testing kits by registering to order workplace coronavirus tests by 31 March.

For organisations with fewer than 50 employees as well as sole traders and the self-employed, access to testing is through testing sites run by local authorities. There is more information on how employers can arrange coronavirus tests for their employees on the government website.

Written by Rachel Miller.

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