Workplace Testing for Coronavirus (COVID-19)
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
Check with your employer for their policy on testing for COVID-19.