As flu season looms, we're seeing more employers starting to offer Covid-19 testing to their staff. Last week the Government issued its first guidance on workplace testing, outlining legal obligations and best practice for employers and third-party healthcare providers in England.
While workplace testing isn't mandatory, employers can decide to offer it if they deem it beneficial - " e.g. when social distancing is not possible" and when done correctly it can provide confidence and clarity as well as the potential for more effective workplace management.
Most employers engage occupational health providers to manage their testing programmes and ensure that they are safe, legal and effective. Yesterday Nick Pahl, CEO of The Society of Occupational Medicine said "we welcome the Government's guidance on workplace testing".
At Covid Testing Network, we're delighted to work in partnership with OH providers to support workplace testing across a range of sectors.
Our network of labs offer high quality processing services and we assist end-to-end with plan design and delivery management challenges. In our experience, most programmes focus on regular (weekly) virus testing of asymptomatic staff: they're aimed at detecting people who've got and may be transmitting Covid-19 but who aren't currently showing symptoms. (Tim Perkin, CEO & Founder, Covid Testing Network)
If you have clients who are thinking of offering testing, as the Government guidance suggests, it's vital that they consider a range of factors before they go ahead. As well as being clear as to the focus of the programme and what it will cost, they must understand the detail around test reliability, what results actually mean and how they would use them. In addition, they should be aware of the processes and governance that need to be in place to ensure that their programme will be safe, legal and effective.
An employer that decides to go ahead and implement testing will need to procure testing kits and lab services. Testing kits must be MHRA approved and the Government recommends employers use UKAS accredited labs whose scope has been extended to include Covid-19 testing and whose quality management systems operate according to ISO 15189 and/or ISO 17025. Employers also need to consider who will administer the tests / supervise staff to self-test, where will this happen and how samples will be stored and returned safely to the lab for processing.
Transparency and clear communication throughout are imperative and the Government strongly advises employers to consult with staff associations ahead of implementing any policy.
How we can help
We've been supporting workplace testing since the start of the pandemic. As experts in the provision of high quality competitively priced plans, we understand the requirements of different workplace settings and our network of DHSC approved labs turn around results within 24 hours of sample receipt. If you're an OH provider or an employer and you want to discuss the new Government guidance or learn more about how we can support your workplace testing, just contact our Head of Client Management, Ami Jayakrishnan