Rapid workplace Covid-19 testing now available to all English businesses

Rapid workplace Covid-19 testing now available to all English businesses
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Businesses in England can now apply for workplace Covid testing. Here’s how the scheme works, and how you can apply for your own Covid testing kits.

What are workplace Covid testing kits?

When you sign up for the scheme, you’ll receive what are known as ‘lateral flow tests’. They’re simple to use and you’ll get the result in 30 minutes. 

  • You swab the back of your throat and nose.
  • You dip the swab into a special solution and then drip it onto a testing device.
  • After 30 minutes, you can read the results.  

If you test positive, you should isolate and immediately arrange a PCR test to confirm the result. 

Have you already been vaccinated? You should still take a rapid Covid test if you’re back at work, because it’s not known for sure yet if you can still pass the virus on. 

Why is workplace Covid testing being introduced?

It’s all about stopping the spread of coronavirus as we move out of lockdown. By testing employees in the workplace, we can identify asymptomatic cases and help people isolate themselves before they spread the virus. 

Why is this important? Well, we’re trying to keep each other safe, but we should also do everything we can to help ensure this is our last lockdown.

To be clear, the guidance is still very much geared towards allowing employees to work from home where possible. So, if your staff can work from home, this is still the best option. However, you can always order the free tests and use them once employees start returning to the office. 

If you or your employees have Covid-19 symptoms, you should stay at home and order a private test. These testing kits are only for asymptomatic testing.  

Are the testing kits free?

Yes. These lateral flow kits are free until 30 June 2021.  

Who can apply for workplace Covid testing?

You can apply for free lateral flow kits if your business is registered in England. The scheme is open to all companies.

Do you have less than 50 employees? You can still sign up for national workplace Covid testing, or you can direct your employees to local testing sites instead. 

Right now, there are no similar schemes in Northern Ireland, Wales or Scotland. 

How long do I have to apply for the scheme?

The online portal is open now. You have until 30 March 2021 to sign up for the free testing kits, so you should register as soon as possible.  

How do I arrange workplace Covid testing?

All you need to do is complete the online application form. You’ll need to provide your company’s name and registration number. 

If you’re registered elsewhere in the UK but you have employees in England, you can register by email instead. You should also register by email if your business is a partnership


Free workplace Covid testing is key to restarting the economy once the lockdown restrictions ease. However, just remember that employees shouldn’t use these tests if they have Covid symptoms. Instead, they should order a private test and stay at home. 

And remember, even if your employees test negative for Covid, or they’ve been vaccinated, the guidance around face coverings and social distancing hasn’t changed. You should still follow the rules for the time being, and employees should continue to work from home where possible. 

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