Can I get my staff tested for COVID?

December 27, 2021
Written by
Edward Heywood
Can I get my staff tested for COVID?

How has your business weathered the storm of Covid-19?

Maybe you stayed open during lockdown, asked everyone to work from home, or shut down altogether. Either way, you’re probably looking forward to a more positive business outlook over the months to come.

And to achieve that, a corporate Covid-19 test programme for staff might be essential.

Can you get your staff tested for Covid-19? Yes. Should you? Absolutely.

Why is corporate Covid-19 testing important?

Around 1 in 3 people infected with coronavirus are asymptomatic. That means they don’t display any of the following main symptoms of Covid-19:

  • A high temperature
  • A continuous cough
  • A loss of, or change to, your sense of taste or smell

Asymptomatic people risk spreading Covid-19 without even realising it — infecting fellow colleagues, customers and clients too. 

That’s why corporate Covid-19 testing is so important. By testing employees on a regular basis, all positive cases are identified which breaks the chain of transmission. 

How are staff tested for Covid-19?

Covid-19 testing programmes for staff typically use lateral flow procedures.

What is a lateral flow test?  

Lateral flow tests are conducted by swabbing the back of the throat and the inside of the nose. This swab sample is placed on a device, which can detect Covid-19 after just 30 minutes.

The device gives an easy-to-understand result (not dissimilar to a pregnancy test).  

Who is a lateral flow test for?

Lateral flow tests are designed for people who don’t currently display any of the primary Covid-19 symptoms — like employees heading into work. 

Anyone displaying one of the primary symptoms should visit the government website or a private clinic to arrange a PCR test instead.

How reliable are lateral flow tests?

Lateral flow tests aren’t as reliable as a PCR test (also used for detecting a Covid-19 infection). There are cases of false negative and false positive results too.

That said, lateral flow tests are useful at finding Covid-19 infections that would otherwise go under the radar. This, along with the speed at which results are available, make them an incredibly helpful tool in the fight against Covid-19.

How often should you test your staff?

The government advises employers to test their on-site employees at least two times per week using these lateral flow tests. Most organisations choose to test employees on say, a Monday and then a Thursday, to maximise their chances of detecting infection.

What does a positive lateral flow test result mean?

Anyone who tests positive should self-isolate immediately, along with all members of their household or support bubble. Self-isolation starts on the day an employee took the test and lasts for 10 days.

The employee should also arrange, either through the government website or a private clinic, to get a PCR test.

If the result from the PCR test is also positive, an employee and their household/bubble should continue to self-isolate.

If the result from the PCR test is negative, the employee can end self-isolation and return to work.

What does a negative lateral flow test result mean?

Because there are cases of false negative results from lateral flow tests, negative results don’t mean that Covid-19 workplace regulations can be ignored.

Employees should still social distance, wear masks where maintaining a safe distance isn’t possible and regularly wash their hands. Workplaces should also be Covid-19 secure and have good ventilation.

Looking for more Health and Safety tips during the pandemic? Check out our dedicated guides, right here.

What are your options for corporate Covid-19 testing?

Arranging corporate Covid-19 testing for staff is a voluntary decision for employers. 

Understandably, though, the government is encouraging as many employers as possible to run testing programmes. They hope that regular workplace testing will help to reduce the risk of transmission, provide reassurance for both workers and customers, and allow businesses to operate more reliably.

If you want to arrange corporate Covid-19 testing for your workplace, there are two main options to choose from:

  1. “DIY” employer-led testing programme

Companies can order lateral flow tests straight from the government website. This “do it yourself” approach has several benefits and drawbacks to consider:

DIY staff testing programme: the pros 

Ordering, organising and managing your own staff testing programme is a cost-effective way to work. Lateral flow tests from the government are completely free as long as:

  • You register before midnight on 31st March 2021
  • Your business is registered in the UK
  • Your workforce can’t work from home

DIY staff testing programme: the cons 

Doing-it-yourself might be cost-effective, but is it time-effective? 

Arguably not. And it’s a big responsibility for organisations to take on.

Tests have to be conducted on-site at your workplace — employees cannot take them home. As an employer, you have to arrange a location and appropriate staffing for testing to take place. You also need to store the tests at specific temperatures, between 15˚C and 30˚C.

Employees who have been tested need to enter their personal details and test kit barcode on the government website each time they’re tested.

Employers also need to consider data protection issues, including how they will handle test result data and share news of a positive test result with the wider workforce.

  1. Use a private testing service

Employers also have the option to use a third-party, private corporate testing service, like we offer here at Corona Test Centre.

Private Covid-19 testing: the pros 

When you enlist the help of private corporate Covid-19 testing experts, you can leave the organisation to them.

They can set up a testing zone in your workplace or use a mobile testing van if space is an issue. Tests are conducted by medical professionals and test results are available the same day.

This means you get the most reliable results possible and can focus on running the business, rather than testing your staff. No data protection concerns, no extra headaches for you.

Private Covid-19 testing: the cons

Testing your staff privately carries a cost — and how much you’ll need to invest depends on how many employees you’re testing. 

But considering how much of your time you’ll save, as well as the boost in productivity for keeping your workforce safe, it’s an investment that’s well worth making.

Test your staff with Corona Test Centre

Corona Test Centre offers lateral flow tests, PCR tests and antibody tests for up to 750 employees in one day. We come to you, ensuring efficient testing, fast results, and minimal disruption to your working day.

Get in touch to arrange your corporate Covid-19 testing today.

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