Can an employer force you to partake in a COVID-19 routine testing programme? Read on to learn more.
It is well established if an individual is presenting symptoms of COVID-19 that they be tested for Coronavirus. However, there is no guidance on whether it is recommended for employers to conduct regular testing on their employees, as part of a routine testing programme.
Why Would An Employer Want To Carry Out A Routine Testing Programme?
Employers are facing increasing pressures to ensure their workplace is safe and that they have met their duty to protect their employees’ health and safety at work. It may, therefore, be natural for employers to deliberate on whether they should introduce a routine testing programme. The benefits of doing so could help to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 in the workplace and protect their employees from contracting COVID-19, whilst carrying out their duties. Whilst this is likely to be the rationale of introducing a routing testing programme, does that mean an employee would actually be willing to be regularly tested?
Does An Employee Have To Participate In A Routine Testing Programme?
There’s two different scenarios to make clear.
Firstly, if the employee is showing symptoms of COVID-19, it is reasonable for an employer to ask that employee to be tested. By obtaining a negative test result, the employee will able to return to work without self-isolating for a period of 10 days. If the employee refuses to be tested, this could result in disciplinary action.
Secondly, can the employer enforce the employee to take a test when they are showing no symptoms? The answer is less clear and has to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. The question will be whether the employers request was reasonable. For example, the management instruction is more likely to be reasonable if the employees cannot socially distance at work and due to the nature of the work, the employer finds it difficult to incorporate measures in the workplace to protect staff from an outbreak.
Can You Be Disciplined For Refusing To Partake In A Routine Testing Programme?
As I have highlighted above, the circumstances will have to be reviewed on a case by case basis. However, the general view would be that if the employer cannot show the request to partake was proportionate in their obligations of health and safety, then disciplinary action may not be considered as reasonable.
What To Do If Your Employer Disciplines You?
If your employer decides to address your refusal to partake in the routine testing programme, you should ask your employer for more information on why they feel this is the appropriate course of action for the business and what other measures could be taken into introduce a more ‘COVID secure’ workplace. If you are concerned by their intent to pursue disciplinary action against you, it is recommended that you obtain independent legal advice.
How Can We Help You?
If this blog raises any questions that you have at work at the moment, or if your worried about another employment law issue, please do not hesitate to get in touch with one of our Specialist Employment Law Solicitors. You can contact us on 01522 440512 or email firstname.lastname@example.org