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27 Apr 2020

Coronavirus testing FAQs for employers of essential workers

Coronavirus testing for essential workers or their household self-isolating with symptoms, is vital to help get them back to their important work as soon as it is safe to do so. The Department of Health and Social Care want to make sure that every essential worker who needs a test can get one.

The full list of eligible essential workers can be found at www.gov.uk/coronavirus-get-tested

For information on coronavirus symptoms and self-isolation, please refer to the national guidance.

This post covers the 11 most commonly questions asked by employers who are supporting their employees who have coronavirus-like symptoms.

1. Can I get staff in my organisation tested?

The National Testing Programme has expanded capacity to test even more essential workers who are self-isolating due to having coronavirus symptoms or because a member of their household has symptoms.

The full list of eligible workers can be found here: www.gov.uk/coronavirus-get-tested Devolved Administrations operate their own eligibility criteria.

2. Who can get a test?

If you are an employer of eligible essential workers (see list above), then you can offer tests to the following:

Any self-isolating members of staff who have coronavirus symptoms

Member of staff does not have symptoms but members of their household do, they can get tested.

3. How do I offer the test to my employees?

A new employer referral portal is now available to make the process as easy as possible. Employers can upload spreadsheets containing the details of essential workers who need to be tested into the secure employer referral portal. The system will generate invitations to the essential workers via SMS and email. Essential workers can then log into the system and book an appointment directly.

A user guide has been issued to all eligible employers giving step by step directions on how to use the system. Employers should email portalservicedesk@dhsc.gov.uk to be given access to the employer referral portal.

The portal also has a self-referral function for employees to self-register, which will take some of the administration burden off employers. Please refer to the accompanying guidance for further information. This system currently operates in England and Scotland only.

4. What kinds of tests are offered?

The test confirms if an individual currently has the virus. There are two options for individuals to get tested that will be available via the new website:

  • Driving to a regional test site OR
  • employees requesting a home test kit which will be delivered to their home

Where members of the household require testing, up to three can attend a regional test site with the essential worker. The total of four, reflects the maximum number of occupants that can be safely tested in a single vehicle.

If the essential worker is registering a test on behalf of a member of their household, that employee does not have to attend the test site with the household member. As long as that symptomatic individual’s name has been booked as the person who needs the test, it will be their name on the list at the test site.

The maximum number of home test kits an essential worker can order is five.

5. How many employees can access testing?

Please refer all your employees who are self-isolating because they or their household member(s) have coronavirus symptoms for testing via the employer referral portal.

Please note that regional test centres that operate the drive-through function have a limit of four people per car.

6. If an employee has tested negative, can they come back to work straight away?

Employees with negative results should only return to work if they feel well enough to do so. If everyone with symptoms who was tested in their household receive a negative result, the employee can return to work immediately, providing they are well enough, and have not had a fever for 48 hours.

If a household member tests positive, but the worker tests negative, the worker can return to work on day eight from the start of their symptoms if they feel well enough and have not had a fever for 48 hours.

If the worker does not have symptoms but a household member tests positive, the worker should continue to self-isolate in line with national guidance

Employees should discuss their return to work with their employer, following the steps outlined in Flowchart describing return to work following a SARS-CoV-2 test.

If, after returning to work, they later develop symptoms they should follow national guidance and self-isolate.

7. Will I be told if a member of staff has tested positive for coronavirus?

The programme does not return the results to an employer. It is the individual’s responsibility to discuss their test result with their employer as part of their return to work conversation.

We will not agree to release data to employers on individual’s test results or an individual’s engagement with the test programme.

8. Can contractors and part-time staff be tested?

Yes. Contractors and part-time staff can be tested.

9. I have eligible employees based in Scotland/Wales but they live closer to test sites in England OR my employees travel into England for work. Can they use a test site closer to home/near work/in another nation?  

Where essential workers are based in one nation, if they are able to safely access a test site in another then they may do so, as long as they meet the eligibility requirements for that test site. However, we would discourage anyone from travelling an excessive distance to do so, particularly if they are feeling very unwell.

10. How does the self-referral portal work? As an employer of essential workers, can I just direct my staff there instead of uploading their details myself?

Yes you can direct your eligible employees to the self-referral portal

https://self-referral.test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk/

They can book a test for themselves or for members of their household who have coronavirus symptoms. Employees will be able to book tests at regional test sites or order home test kits.

11. What other support is available for my employees?

There is a Coronavirus Testing Call Centre for employees who have been referred or booked a test themselves, which is contacted on 0300 303 2713. Lines are open open daily 08:00 – 20:00. This call centre does not offer medical advice. If your employee is unwell, they should call NHS 111 and in a medical emergency, dial 999

The Department of Health and Social Care have also recently launched a new online portal where employers in England and Scotland can register and refer self-isolating staff or members of their household. This will make the process of getting an appointment quicker and easier, while reducing the burden on business. In addition, self-isolating employees in England and Scotland can book tests online themselves.

Using the new online portal

For employers wishing to support their employees by managing their test registration, the first step is to email portalservicedesk@dhsc.gov.uk for access to the portal. Please include your organisation name and sector, as well as the name and email address of up to two people who will use the portal. A step-by-step guide is attached with this letter.

Employee Self-Referral

Essential workers in England and Scotland who are self-isolating can also now book their test online directly by visiting www.gov.uk/coronavirus and clicking on one of the options under “Testing for coronavirus (COVID-19).”

Types of Testing

Government have established over 30 drive-through regional test centres and we are increasing this to up to 50 by the end of April. You can now refer essential workers to this type of testing and your employees can book it directly.

They are also introducing a range of additional testing methods to support testing accessibility, including home test kits. There are currently a limited number of these kits available, however we anticipate that availability will increase significantly by the end of April. The home test kits will be delivered by Amazon and sent directly to the individual’s home so they can perform the test themselves. They will then be collected by Royal Mail couriers. This option is available via the employee self-referral route.???????

If you have any questions about any of the above or more general business support enquiries, please contact our team on 0300 770 2245 or at enquiries@bcgrowthhub.com

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