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Employer’s guide – how do I get my essential workers tested for Covid-19?

If a member of your staff, who is deemed an essential worker, is required to self-isolate in line with Covid-19 guidance, you should refer them for testing as soon as possible.

Being able to ascertain who has the virus is not only crucial for slowing the spread but making sure those who test positive get the help and treatment they may need.

A negative result also means an employee can potentially return to work, although there are a number of precautionary checks to carry out first.

Who can be tested as an essential worker?

The number of work roles classed as essential is growing.

It now includes, among many others, care home staff, teachers, hospital cleaners, supermarket workers, delivery drivers, funeral workers, those employed in food production and processing, pharmacists and those working in the telecommunications industry.

It also covers contractors and part-time staff.

You can find the full list of eligible workers by clicking here.

How do I offer my staff a test?

If you employ essential workers, the starting point is the Government’s secure employer referral portal. To get access, email portalservicedesk@dhsc.gov.uk.

Once you have uploaded a spreadsheet with details of the essential workers who need testing, the system sends an invitation which allows them to log into the system and book a test for themselves.

You can also ask employees to self-register and self-refer which takes some of the administrative burden off your shoulders. The link for them to do so is here.

How are staff tested?

Staff can drive to a regional testing site (with a maximum of four people per car) or request a home testing kit. The limit that can be ordered is five. In addition, the Government have recently announced the expansion of the rapid testing system, which your staff may be able to access, but this depend on where they live.

Will I be told my employees’ test results?

No. It is your employee’s responsibility to let you know as part of their return to work conversation with you.

Can an employee come straight back to work if they test negative?

Anyone who tests negative should only come back to work if they feel well enough to do so.

Of course, the situation may be complicated by other people in the employee’s household waiting for results or feeling unwell.

Key points to remember include:

  • If everyone with symptoms in the worker’s household receives a negative test result, they can return to work immediately as long as they haven’t had any of the main symptoms for 48 hours;
  • If the employee tests negative but someone in their house tests positive, they can return to work on day 8 after the start of their symptoms providing they feel well enough and haven’t had a fever for 48 hours;
  • If someone in the worker’s household tests positive, they must continue to self-isolate even if they don’t have symptoms in line with national guidance.

Get in touch

For help and advice about employment law and Covid-19, please contact Wards Solicitors’ specialist employment lawyers, Joe Nicholls and Matthew Warren by calling 0117 929 2811 or email Joe.Nicholls@wards.uk.com or Matthew.Warren@wards.uk.com.


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