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10.03.2021

COVID-19 testing: Employer advice for testing staff

By Rob Nolan

Some employers have experienced good business continuity results by asking staff to take a COVID-19 test before entering the workplace. Some of the benefits include maintaining usual business operations and safely managing interactions with contractors.

With no government guidance around testing employees the decision to introduce COVID-19 testing is at the discretion of the employer. Organisations must also bear in mind that there is no government subsidy or financial support for carrying out workplace testing and tests are therefore carried out at the employer’s cost.

What can I do if one of my employees refuses to take a test?

As it stands, no individual can lawfully be forced to take a COVID-19 test. Forcing an employee to do so could even be considered assault.

Article: Should Irish employers require staff to take a COVID-19 vaccine?

Employees who don’t display symptoms may query the legal basis of being required to take a COVID-19 test before entering the workplace. In this scenario, it’s best to explain the purpose of the test to the employee. If they refuse the test regardless, you must tread carefully to avoid employee relations issues.

Before considering disciplinary procedures, it’s important to first engage with the employee. You must be able to demonstrate that taking a COVID-19 test prior to entering the workplace is actually a reasonable management instruction before taking any further action. You also need to remember that employees may have personal reasons for not wanting to take a test. So, what’s your best option?

Well, outlining why tests are necessary is a good place to start. In communicating this, remind those who refuse a test that they may be prevented from entering the workplace. Also, if the alternative is a reduction in work capacity, employees may be more inclined to volunteer for COVID-19 testing.

What should I do if an employee tests positive?

All staff should by now be familiar with your protocols for dealing with an employee who either displays symptoms or returns a positive test. If an employee does test positive, they shouldn’t enter the workplace, they should be sent home to self-isolate in line with your Work Safely Protocols and current government guidelines.

Managing the vaccine rollout in your business

Software such as VaccTrak allows you to log who’s had the COVID-19 vaccine in your business.

VaccTrak allows you to:

  • Update your employee profiles to easily record who’s had the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Download regular reports to see exactly who’s been vaccinated, so you can keep your people safe during the vaccine roll-out.
  • Download professional letter templates to encourage your staff to have the vaccine.
  • Access our exclusive vaccine awareness course. Share it with your staff to educate them on the vaccine and answer any complex questions.

 Need advice on your HR issues?

For advice on any HR issue, speak to an expert now on 01 886 0350 or request a callback here.

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