Government advice is quite detailed on the importance of staff communications. Here you are dealing with a whole range of issues from personal safety and health through data protection.
"Transparency is very important when outlining to staff an employer's decision to develop and implement a virus or antibody testing programme.
When communicating with staff about a new internal testing programme, employers are strongly advised to communicate clear information on:
- why they are setting up a testing programme, as well as or instead of accessing the existing national programme.
- whether the programme is voluntary or mandatory
- what the consequences are for staff who decline to take part in the testing programme or decline to share the result of a test
- what the next steps are for staff after they receive the result
- where staff can seek advice on their rights throughout the process
- whether staff will have the opportunity to discuss the collection of such data if they have any concerns.
- what to do after receiving a test result
Employers are strongly advised to consult with their staff associations or unions ahead of implementing any policy.
The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has set out specific points on GPDR and the Data Protection Act 2018.
To comply with the GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018 employers must :
- process all data lawfully, fairly and transparently
- ensure staff are aware of what personal data is required, what it will be used for, and who it will be shared with taking account of the ICO's guidance on individual rights
- make staff aware of how long they intend to keep the data for
Employers are advised to make all staff aware of how their personal data will be processed before processing begins. Further detailed information on how to do this is set out in the guidance for employers by the ICO.
The ICO advise that Data protection does not prevent the necessary and proportionate use of personal data for COVID-19 response. Data protection law has built-in flexibility to ensure it does not prevent appropriate health and safety measures being implemented in the workplace or action taken in the overwhelming public interest. Nevertheless, there are important data protection considerations to take into account when processing personal data, particularly health data.
The ICO has set out FAQs on data collection and data protection relating to COVID-19 that provide further information.
NHS Test and Trace
The Government has developed NHS Test and Trace to ensure that anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 can quickly be tested to find out if they have the virus, help trace close recent contacts of anyone who tests positive for coronavirus and, if necessary, notify them that they must self-isolate at home to help stop the spread of the virus.
NHS Test and Trace will not generally contact employers unless two or more new COVID-19 cases are linked to a workplace setting."
"If employers identifies that there is more than one case of COVID-19 on your premises, they should contact their local Health Protection Team."