Requirements to test
Currently there are no legal requirements forcing employers to test their employees, however employers may want to introduce their own internal testing for staff. Not only could this protect business continuity but also provide some much-needed confidence for employees.
If employers want to implement mandatory testing for employees, they must consider staff contracts, health and safety requirements and equality issues.
It is important that employers are clear on the following factors when communicating testing to staff:
– Who testing will cover (will it be for all employees or only certain groups?);
– How often will staff be tested;
– Whether the testing will be voluntary or mandatory;
– What arrangements will be made for those refusing a test;
– Where staff can seek advice on their rights throughout the process;
– How you will use the test results.
Internal tracing systems
Employers have the option to implement their own internal tracing system. Whilst this does not substitute the NHS Test and Trace, it can offer reassurance to the workplace and allow employers to track positive results.
One aspect to bear in mind is that if an employee is identified as a contact via an internal tracing system but not defined as a contact through the NHS system, then they will not be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay. However, they will still be required to self-isolate for the full term.
Employers must ensure that they contact the Local Health Protection Team should there be an outbreak of more than one case of COVID-19 on a workplace premises.
Should an employee’s test result return as positive, the employee would be required to:
– Immediately self-isolate for 10 days from either the point of developing symptoms, or from the date of the result if they are asymptomatic: and
– Share their information with the NHS Test and Trace service.
If an employee displays a negative result but develops symptoms further down the line, then they will be required to self-isolate and be re-tested.
Whilst it is important to keep staff informed of potential or confirmed COVID-19 cases, employers should ensure that they do not reveal the names of those employees; all results should be kept confidential as far as possible.
What can’t employers do with test results?
Employers cannot allow any data from testing, especially sensitive health data or test results to result in the unfair or harmful treatment of employees.
Employers must not use or retain information gathered about staff for purposes that they were not told about or would not reasonably expect.
Employers should update their Privacy Notices to include Coronavirus testing and the information that they will hold.
Employers should further consider introducing COVID-19 Policies which would not only cover internal testing but also emphasise the duty that an employee has to inform their employer if they are contacted by NHS Test and Trace or receive a positive test result.
If you require assistance with drafting Privacy Notices or COVID-19 Polices, or would like advice on any of the above, then please call the team on 01752 663295.