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The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has published new guidance for employers on COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.

The key points include:

  1. If a member of staff receives a positive result from a virus test then they should self-isolate and share information about their recent contacts when they are contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service.
  2. If an employer is unable to carry out a test they can refer symptomatic staff for NHS virus testing through the Employer Referral Portal.
  3. The guidance states that “Employer and third-party healthcare providers must not advise individuals without symptoms to get a test from the limited supply offered by Test and Trace.” Employers are advised that they may wish to carry out their own tests to monitor potential COVID-19 in the workforce even where staff are not displaying symptoms.
  4. The guidance reminds employers that a negative test does not necessarily mean that someone does not have COVID-19. If an employee starts displaying symptoms they must self-isolate even if staff have recently received a negative result.
  5. The guidance advises employers to communicate with staff regarding the consequences of declining to take a test, and the next steps if they receive a positive result.
  6. The guidance reminds employers of their data protection obligations in respect of test results and particularly emphasises that employers should ensure that staff are aware of what test results will be used for, who they will be shared with, and how long they intend to keep the data for.
  7. The guidance provides details of how to obtain and use testing kits. Click here for more details.

Employers may wish to draft a specific policy relating to COVID-19, which incorporates some of this guidance.

For assistance with drafting guidance to staff please contact our employment law team.

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