The Government has published guidance (available here) to help employers understand the regulations and legal obligations that apply if they wish to introduce their own testing programmes outside the NHS Test and Trace. Such testing programmes may, for example, give confidence to employees and customers in the workplace and to help protect business continuity. However, there is no obligation on employers to provide a testing programme.
The guidance covers issues that employers will need to consider before introducing testing, including:
- the steps you need to think about before deciding to establish a testing programme;
- the scope of the programme (for example, whether to focus on staff with symptoms or without symptoms and frequency of testing);
- how test results will be used and whether compatible with the employer’s legal responsibilities; informing staff and complying with GDPR requirements (see further guidance on this see the ICO’s advice here);
- selecting and obtaining appropriate test kits;
- collecting and handling samples;
- finding appropriate laboratory facilities;
- data collection and individual rights;
- communicating with staff, including in relation to the results; and
- what an employer can and can’t do with the results.
The guidance also provides a very helpful list of the legal issues relevant to this issue (such as health and safety, data protection and discrimination laws) and provides links to relevant legislation.