Guidance published for employers on Covid-19 testing and contact tracing
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has published guidance for employers on Covid-19 testing and contact tracing.
The guidance applies to England only, but equivalent guidance will be published for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The guidance provides information about the types of testing available, and recommends that, before deciding to test staff, employers should consider the scope of any testing programme, the frequency of testing, arrangements for individuals who refuse to be tested and how test results will be used.
Any communications about testing should be transparent and employers are advised to consult with staff associations or unions before implementing any policy, as well as ensuring compliance with all data protection obligations. The guidance provides information on how to communicate test results, and encourages employers to keep staff informed about potential or confirmed Covid-19 cases, but advises that individuals should not be named.
Although it isn't compulsory, the guidance anticipates that employers may want to introduce internal tracing systems alongside testing programmes. Any individual identified as a contact by an internal tracing system, but not by NHS Test and Trace, will not qualify for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), so provision should be made for them to work from home where possible. Where this is not possible the guidance states that the individual may remain entitled to full pay unless their employment contract provides otherwise. Although individuals do not have to self-isolate unless they are contacted by NHS Test and Trace, they are advised to avoid contact with those at "high increased risk" of severe illness resulting from Covid-19.