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Coronavirus testing – Guidance for businesses

On 5 January, England was placed in a new national lockdown. 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. 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.

The Information Commissioner's Office, the UK's independent body set up to uphold information rights, has also released guidance for employers relating to workplace testing and data protection, which can be accessed here.

Testing for asymptomatic individuals

Community asymptomatic testing can help identify and isolate individuals who have COVID-19 but do not exhibit any symptoms and may inadvertently be spreading the virus, without realising it. This type of testing uses rapid lateral flow antigen tests which can provide results within 30 minutes.

If the test comes back positive, this is a ‘red-light’ that indicates someone is infectious and they must self-isolate immediately. They should share with NHS Test and Trace details of anyone they have recently been in contact with, including while at work (Individuals working in a care home, the NHS or a primary school should also arrange to have a PCR test). A positive rapid test result will also trigger eligibility for financial support. A negative 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.

Testing programmes offering this service are currently being rolled out across Greater Manchester and are being led by public health teams in each local authority area.

Tests are available free of charge to people identified as priorities locally. In many areas, this includes critical workers and other people who are unable to work from home during the national lockdown.

To find out if rapid testing is offered by your local authority or near your place of work, you can click on your local council below or use the government's postcode checker.


Greater Manchester community asymptomatic testing programmes

Workplace testing for people without coronavirus symptoms

In addition to asymptomatic testing becoming available on a local level, NHS Test and Trace is working with government departments, institutions and employers to also offer free testing in the workplace for workers without symptoms. 

This is for organisations with more than 50 employees, who cannot work from home. To register to order these coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid lateral flow tests for your employees, please use the online form available on the government website.

Note: Businesses will need to register interest before 31st March in order to qualify to receive free test kits for staff who cannot work at home until the end of June.

An overview of the steps required to set up a test service for your employees as well as a series of frequently asked questions about lateral flow testing technology has been published by the NHS.  

Organisations with less than 50 staff, sole traders, the self-employed, or members of the public, should visit their local authority’s website for further information about their testing services.

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.


Access our toolkit for a range of resources to help you maintain the safety of your workplace.

COVID-Safe Workplaces Toolkit

Additional Resources

Testing for individuals with symptoms Testing for individuals with symptoms

Get a free NHS test to check if you have coronavirus

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:


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.