Employment Coronavirus COVID-19 Testing Protocol

Q1: Is private testing legitimate?

Yes - the UK Government encourages you to do so.

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Q2: What is my legal liability?

Under the Health & Safety at Work Legislation you must take all reasonably practicable steps to maintain a safe working environment for your staff.

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Q3: Who should we test?

The government recognises employers' desire to create and maintain a safe workspace (a work bubble) by testing all their asymptomatic staff and government advice supports achieving that aim. Anyone showing symptoms would obviously be tested as a matter of priority.

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Q4: How often should we test?

We recommend testing all staff twice a week and possibly symptomatic staff should be isolated and tested as soon as possible - limited pooling of samples may reduce the cost.

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Q5: Staff communication?

The overriding consideration is that medical data is personal data covered by data protection legislation and that data is owned and should be controlled by the individual concerned. Hence employers will require employee's agreement concerning what should be done with their own test result data.

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Q6: How should we prepare?

A careful consideration of the potential issues listed in the Government advice will prepare the way for a properly planned testing programme.

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Q7: How should we undertake testing?

Establishing a sensible testing procedure using a good quality reliable testing method should be the aim. Some of the latest generation of Lateral Flow Rapid Antigen Tests are sufficiently accurate to give reliable results. Look for a clinical specificity of better then 97% and a clinical sensitivity of better then 95%.

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Q8: Then what - next steps?

Having completed the testing process dealing with the resulting data takes you back to the personal data considerations discussed under Question 5 - Staff Communication, remember that your staff are entitled to control their own data.

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What is the status of this protocol?

1. This has been drafted by Nick Lightbody BA FRSA (retired solicitor) in order to assist employers. We have repackaged and consolidated the current Government UK Guidance to Employers in an effort to make it easier to follow.

2. We have brought into the flow of the Government advice external resources which may provide assistance to employers following the formal government advice.

The source for this protocol is the following UK Government web page and various resources linked to it and/or referred to within it.

Government UK Guidance for employers and third-party healthcare providers
Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing

Updated 8 October 2020
This guidance applies to England only, and there will be equivalent guidance published for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Gov UK Web Page