Here is Park City’s latest update and advice for Testing for COVID-19 at Work when you have 50 employees and above.
Government Boost to rapid workplace testing
- New government drive to increase workplace testing in sectors open during lockdown, to detect coronavirus (COVID-19) in people who are not showing symptoms.
- Government departments tasked with ensuring targeted, rapid testing is set up in all key workplaces to ensure vital public and economic services can continue.
- Criteria for joining the workplace testing programme is reduced to businesses with more than 50 employees, boosting the availability of rapid testing further.
What does that mean in terms of HR?
Whilst you cannot force an employee to get a test, you can encourage employees to be reminded that should another employee they are in contact with have COVID-19, you would want to know so that they could remain home and keep everyone else safe, so the same would apply to them, being tested to ensure they remain safe along with their colleagues benefits all staff and the business at the same time.
Some employees also may refuse to be tested, for fear if they test positive and they have to self-isolate they won’t get paid, so employers will need to be mindful of ensuring health and safety guidelines to keep the workplace safe, against employees potentially being paid SSP for 10 days. The government has introduced the £500 scheme that employees are able to access if they are forced to self-isolate for a period of time. This may be critical for employees who have tested positive but remain asymptomatic and so were unaware. Some businesses may have adopted a policy of paying staff for self isolation, as a result of test and trace or positive tests provided by the employer, if this is the case ensure all staff are aware of the policy and apply this consistently across all the staff.
The government guidelines remain clear that if employees can work from home then they should, and if an employer knowingly allows an employee to attend work when they should be self-isolating they may be fined, along with employees who know should be self-isolating. There is a mutual benefit in clear honest two-way communication in relation to self-isolation requirements.
What does this mean in terms of Health and Safety?
If you are asking staff to take Covid tests, then this increases the obligation you have, as an employer, to ensure your Covid-19 Risk Assessments have been reviewed, updated and communicated to all staff.
Should you have positive results, your management plan to reduce the potential virus infections among staff in the workplace needs to be implemented, this should be part of your COVID-19 Risk Assessment.
Ensure you are aware of your local Public Health contact numbers in case you have a series of positive tests that could be classed as an “outbreak”. Different areas are applying varying rules for this, our advice is , if you have more than ONE case at work, contact your local Public Health Department and seek clarification, they are there to help and assist not to finger-point.
Once you become aware of a positive case as a result of testing, you MUST act to protect the other staff members and those who may have come into contact with the individual who has tested positive. The individual must self-isolate, so must remove themselves from the workplace. Your legal duties are to ensure this happens, fines will be issued if you don’t, and this equally applies to the employee also.
If in doubt, please contact your lead consultant, who is already working with you, for either HR or H&S, or our office for support and advice, no need to be alone through these challenging times.
Never alone and Stronger together with Park City.