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Coronavirus testing – Guidance for businesses

Review our quick-read guide for a summary of the latest national restrictions. 

Guide to the latest national restrictions

Testing for individuals with symptoms

Anyone exhibiting symptoms in the UK must get tested and self-isolate immediately. Individuals can book a visit to a test site or order a home swab test kit online through the government website.

To help employers and businesses manage the emergence of symptomatic staff and confirmed COVID-19 cases in the workplace we have developed a quick-read guide.

Testing for asymptomatic individuals

1 in 3 people with coronavirus show no symptoms and could potentially be spreading the virus without knowing. Twice weekly rapid testing is a vital way of finding these cases.

This type of testing uses rapid lateral flow (LFD) tests which can provide results within 30 minutes. A lateral flow test result should be submitted to the national test and trace service regardless if it’s positive or negative - via www.gov.uk/report-covid19-result or by calling 119.  

If the test comes back positive, this is a ‘red-light’ that indicates someone is likely to be infectious and they must self-isolate immediately for 10 days. They should share with NHS Test and Trace details of anyone they have recently been in contact with, including while at work.

To minimise the possibility of a false positive and help track variants of COVID-19, a positive LFD test will need to be followed by ordering a PCR test. If the confirmatory PCR is taken within two days and is negative, you and your contacts will be allowed to stop isolating.

If the PCR test comes back positive or if you receive a negative PCR test result but the test was taken more than two days after the lateral flow test, you and your contacts will be required to complete the remainder of the 10 day self-isolation period.

If you are required to self-isolate, you may be entitled to a one-off payment of £500 through the NHS Test and Trace Support Payment scheme

A negative LFD test result means that active coronavirus infection was not detected, at the time of the test. However, individuals receiving a negative test result should continue to follow the safety guidelines in place to stop the spread of coronavirus.

 

Who can access regular rapid lateral flow testing?

From 9 April, everyone in England is able to access free, regular, rapid coronavirus testing. More information on how individuals can get a rapid test is available below.

Routes to testing if you do not have symptoms of coronavirus

Everyone in England has the option to:

  • Get a rapid lateral flow test at a test site.
    Find your nearest rapid lateral flow test site here.
  • Get a test to do at home.
    You have the option to:
  • Get a test through your employer.
    Staff and students of schools, colleges or nurseries can get rapid tests through their school, college or nursery (Primary school-age children and younger do not need to test.)

    More information on how other employers can offer rapid lateral flow testing to their workforce is available in the next section.

 

Workplace testing

The deadline for registering to order free rapid lateral flow tests for your employees was 12 April 2021.

  • If you did not register you have the option to:
  • If you registered, you can order free rapid lateral flow tests until 30 June 2021. You can use these to test your employees twice weekly in the workplace or your employees can collect and use them at home.  

    You can also take part in the government's new We Offer Testing To Our Staff (WOTTOS) endorsement scheme to showcase your commitment to providing a COVID-secure working environment.

    This is a voluntary promotional scheme that allows employers to display an easily recognisable NHS Test and Trace branded physical and/or virtual sticker which can be accessed through the ordering platform where businesses order their NHS Test and Trace workplace tests.

Setting up workplace testing

An overview of the steps required to set up a test service for your employees in the workplace as well as a series of frequently asked questions about lateral flow testing technology has been published by the NHS. The government has also published a supplementary guide for private-sector employers interested in offering workplace testing for asymptomatic employees.

Employers who would prefer an accredited third-party private sector provider to organise and run the testing on their behalf can partner with one of the providers on the list of providers: general testing. Whilst businesses would be required to pay for this service, they would still be eligible to order the free government testing kits. 

Full guidance for private-sector employers on workplace testing is available on the government website, here. In addition, if you require staff to travel regularly across UK borders you must take reasonable steps to facilitate your employees to take tests.

To help protect employees from COVID-19 and keep businesses open, employers should do their bit and encourage their workers to self-isolate in the event of a positive result. Our guide will take you through the key steps employers should take to enable staff to self-isolate when required to do so, to stop the spread of coronavirus and help restart the economy.

Supporting self-isolation due to coronavirus – a guide for business

Considerations when taking part in testing of people without coronavirus symptoms

There are some important considerations for any organisation offering staff or volunteers without symptoms coronavirus testing:

  • This does not replace measures to create a COVID-safe workplace where risks of spreading the disease are minimised. You should still ensure that cleaning and handwashing facilities are in place, safe distancing is maintained, and all staff who can work from home are supported to do so.
  • Anyone with coronavirus symptoms must still book a test through NHS Test and Trace as soon as possible, and self-isolate immediately while waiting for the results and until all clear. Staff (including agency staff) should be supported to self-isolate and sick pay should cover all of the required absence. If staff continue to work when they should be self-isolating, there is an increased risk that they will infect others which could lead to business closures, staff dissatisfaction and reputational damage.
  • Anyone testing positive must also feel confident sharing details of people they have recently been close to with NHS Test and Trace. Any reluctance – for example, because of worries of suffering financial hardship or sanctions at work – will undermine the testing programme and everyone’s efforts to stop the virus, protect public services and save lives.

 

Business Growth Hub client, Rowlinson Knitwear who is also a member of the Greater Manchester Good Employment Charter shares the company's experience working with Stockport Council to establish lateral flow testing in the workplace

Find out how they did it

Additional Resources

Download the free Be My Eyes app Download the free Be My Eyes app

Citizens who need visual support can have a live video call with specially trained NHS Test and Trace staff who can help you register and take a home coronavirus test.

Read more
Testing for asymptomatic individuals Testing for asymptomatic individuals

Understanding Lateral Flow antigen testing for people without symptoms

Read more
COVID-19 vaccines – what you need to know COVID-19 vaccines – what you need to know

Our guide will help businesses ensure their staff can find accurate and timely information on COVID-19 vaccines.

Read more

More information is available on the UK Government’s Coronavirus Business Support website. For more personalised advice call us on: 0161 237 4128 or email us at: BGH@growthco.uk 

  

The information provided is meant as a general guide only rather than advice or assurance. GC Business Growth Hub does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information and professional guidance should be sought on all aspects of business planning and responses to the coronavirus. Use of this guide and toolkit are entirely at the risk of the user. Any hyperlinks from this document are to external resources not connected to the GC Business Growth Hub and The Growth Company is not responsible for the content within any hyperlinked site.