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Published 20 May 2020
Many employers are implementing some form of testing regime for its employees as part of their ‘COVID-secure’ return to work plans. In our latest alert, we take a look at some of the issues which may arise from implementing temperature testing at work.
An elevated temperature is recognised as a common symptom of COVID-19 and the current Government guidance is that anyone with a fever should self-isolate as a precaution. However, not all fevers are caused by COVID-19 and not all COVID-19 patients are feverish. Nevertheless, temperature screening can still play an important role in identifying potentially infected employees and isolating them from the rest of your workforce.
If you are considering a temperature testing regime, here are some practical tips:
The Information Commissioner’s Office has published guidance to employers on the data protection implications of workplace testing. In summary, the guidance states that:
Depending on the needs of your business, and subject to availability, you may wish for your staff to undergo COVID-19 antigen tests in order to test for presence of the virus. These should be undertaken by trained individuals wearing the appropriate PPE as they involve taking a swab from the nose and/or throat. The samples are then lab-tested and the results are therefore not instantaneous.
It may also be possible to test whether employees have previously had COVID-19 using an antibody test but until recently there had been concerns over reliability of such tests. There is also still a question mark over whether antibodies confer immunity and, if so, for how long. Specialist advice should be sought as to how best to conduct antibody tests.
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