The Government has announced that firms with more than 50 staff members will now be eligible for COVID testing in their workplace. 

It has been announced that businesses which employ over 50 workers will now be eligible to receive lateral flow tests, a rapid form of COVID-testing.

This lateral flow test has the ability to produce results in only half an hour.

Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, stated that this service is “essential” when considering that one in three people are carrying the virus without having symptoms.

He continued:

Employers should regularly test their staff, and this drive across government to raise awareness and encourage more businesses to introduce rapid testing for employees is incredibly important.

We are already working with many employers to scale up workforce testing, spanning the food industry, retail sector, transport network, and across the public sector too.

I strongly urge businesses and employees across the country to take up this offer of rapid testing to help stop this virus spreading further.

This announcement is hoped to protect many workers who cannot complete their job from home. Prior to this, only businesses that had over 250 workers were eligible for testing.

However, some unions highlighted the potential risks in solely relying on lateral flow testing kits as previous research conducted last year showed that it missed positive COVID cases which were asymptomatic.

Dan Shears, GMB union’s health, safety and environment director, suggested this scheme needed to be carried out with extra precautions in place:

Everyone wants to ensure that infectious workers keep away from the workplace, but this means getting the introduction of testing right – with confirmatory testing to avoid false negatives and crucially ensuring that all protective measures to reduce transmission are implemented to the maximum.

As of the most recent Governmental figures, over one hundred firms in the UK have signed up to receive workplace testing, with many more expected to sign up in light of this new announcement.