People Vision HR Resources
COVID-19 Testing: 5 Things Employers Should Consider
Throughout the global pandemic, testing has proved an effective and efficient way to combat the spread of COVID-19. 12 months ago, coronavirus tests were few and far between but now they are readily available to individuals and organisations alike. Furthermore, with restrictions now lifting and businesses opening up, testing is seen as key to ensuring that we don't go back to the dark days of lockdown. We, at People Vision, are eager to do our part so we've put together this guide to help you test your employees and in turn, keep them safe.
1. To Test or Not to Test?
When it comes to keeping your workforce safe from COVID-19, testing is your best bet. Social distancing and masks aren’t fool proof and are difficult to maintain in the workplace – challenges not faced by testing. Put your employees and clients at ease with the most straightforward and secure method of fighting COVID-19.
Admittedly, there are drawbacks to testing, but these are purely administrative: cost, reluctant employees and administering a test. However, we all must do our part in fighting COVID-19 and testing is a fantastic and easy way for you and your employees to do so.
2. What COVID-19 Test is Best?
So, you’ve decided to test your workforce, but which test do you use? In the beginning of the pandemic, tests were few and far between but now there are countless available. Two are widely recognised and used and distributed by the government: Lateral Flow (LF) and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR).
LF tests are designed to identify asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19. Easy to administer and providing a result in just 30 minutes, the tests are perfect for testing a workforce smoothly and efficiently.
If an employee were to have a positive LF test or begin displaying symptoms, such as a high temperature and a continuous cough, then a PCR test is required. This is used to confirm an infection, with results analysed at a lab. Although time-consuming, PCR tests are vital to identifying cases of COVID-19, reducing the risk of transmission and overcoming the ongoing pandemic.
Coronavirus Tests to Consider
Lateral Flow - identifies asymptomatic cases.
Polymerase Chain Reaction - used to confirm a positive LF test or symptomatic cases.
3. Where can I get COVID-19 Tests?
A test for COVID-19 isn’t something you’re going to find on Amazon. No, you’re going to have to go through the government. If you registered with them before 12th April, then lucky you – you can obtain free LF tests until 30th June.
However, if you haven’t registered then you will be redirected to a provider from whom you can buy tests. It should be noted that few of these providers are actively advertising a workplace testing service and are focused on individual tests for travel as opposed to group testing.
An alternative approach, especially for smaller employers, is to ask your employees to acquire their own tests as any individual can request a LF test from the government or pick one up at their local pharmacy or test centre free of charge. For more information see www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests. And, if needed, individuals can obtain a PCR test kit or an appointment at a test centre via www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test. Whilst this is a cost-effective method, it does require trust and effective communication between you and your employees.
4. Who should be Tested for COVID-19? And How Often?
You’re ready to start testing but now who do you test? Everyone within a five-metre radius? Or only those you catch coughing? The answer is everyone coming to your workplace. All employees, even if they only come in once-a-week, need to be tested. Workforce aside, you may wish to consider testing people who aren’t employed by you directly but come into your workplace. This includes contractors, clients and visitors. Consider testing them but avoid testing fever – people will likely object if they’re just popping in to say hi and are ambushed by cotton swabs.
As for how often should you test? Once a week should be the minimum as otherwise you will miss cases and have wasted your time, money and resources. Government advice suggests that individuals returning to the workplace should be test twice a week.
5. Can an Employee be Required to Take a Test?
This is a difficult question from both legal and HR viewpoints. The simple answer is no. No-one is required to take a test by law and it is unlikely your employees contracts include a testing clause. However, if an employee does refuse a test, then we encourage you to be understanding and get in touch with us here at People Vision. We can then assess your situation and discuss with you the best steps to take to ensure a peaceful and positive resolution.