Workplace Testing for Coronavirus (COVID-19)

3 lateral flow tests for COVID-19 with one positive and the other 2 negative

There’s no law that says staff must be tested for coronavirus (COVID-19), but some employers might want to bring in testing as part of their workplace policy. 

If an employer wants to test PAs

If an employer wants to test Personal Assistants (PAs) for COVID-19, they should first discuss and agree a policy with:

  • Their PAs
  • A recognised trade union or other employee representatives

It’s a good idea to discuss: 

  • How testing would be carried out
  • How you would get their test results
  • The process to follow if test positive for COVID-19
  • Pay if you are self-isolating but cannot work from home
  • How your absence would be recorded if you need to take time off work
  • How testing data will be used, stored and deleted, in line with data protection law (UK GDPR)

Any decision after that discussion should be: 

  • Put in writing, for example in a workplace policy
  • Made in line with the organisation’s existing disciplinary and grievance policy

If the employer cannot reach agreement with their PAs, it’s a good idea to get legal advice before bringing in a testing policy.

If PAs are tested, everyone must still follow guidelines on:

  • Keeping the workplace safe
  • Self-isolation for COVID-19 – for example, if they have symptoms or test positive

If PAs are worried about testing

PAs may not want to get tested because they’re worried that if they test positive they will get paid less for being off work, or will get treated differently.

To help reassure PAs about being tested, employers could consider changing the way they deal with time off after testing positive for COVID-19. For example:

  • Keeping PAs on their usual rate of pay instead of just paying them sick pay
  • Not counting the time off in their absence record or towards any ‘trigger’ system the employer may have

Protecting personal data

Employers must make sure they follow data protection law if they test PAs for COVID-19.

Resolving issues about staff testing

If a PA does not agree to be tested, the employer should listen to their concerns. It’s important for the employer to be flexible and try to find ways to resolve any issues.

It can help for the employer and PA to talk about:

  • The reason the PA does not want to get tested
  • What might help resolve the issue

Next steps

Check with your employer for their policy on testing for COVID-19.

Part of
Last Updated
17 January 2023
First Published
02 May 2022
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Please note that the information contained in this Handbook is provided for guidance purposes only. Every reasonable effort is made to make the information accurate and up to date, but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by Self Directed Support Scotland or any other contributing party.

The information does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice. You are strongly advised to obtain specific, personal and professional advice from a lawyer about employment law matters, or an accountant/ tax specialist about taxation matters, and from HMRC and your insurers. You should not rely solely on the information in this Handbook. Support organisations listed in this Handbook can help you find appropriate sources of advice.