Towergate Health & Protection has seen sustained interest from employers wanting to know more about corporate Covid testing and asking Towergate to arrange employer-funded tests. This is since, and despite, the announcement of the roll out of Covid vaccines.
Brett Hill, distribution director at Towergate Health & Protection explains: “While the vaccine is viewed by many employers as hugely positive, they are also well aware that, due to age demographics, their workforces may be among some of the last on the priority list. Employers are, therefore, taking action themselves and offering Covid testing in a bid to keep companies operating.”
Among the employers who benefit from private Covid testing are those with frontline or key workers. With the offer of regular Covid testing, employees who frequently deal with members of the public can quickly find out if they are safe to continue working. Companies with large workforces may also benefit, so that they can spot patterns of any Covid cases that might indicate high-risk environments or roles. SMEs can be particularly affected by absences related to Covid, and being able to quickly deploy reliable testing to all employees, or to specific teams, can help in planning and implementing their strategy to continue operating. Covid testing on the NHS is only available for those displaying symptoms of Covid 19, yet asymptomatic transmission is one of the most challenging aspects of Covid 19, so the ability to provide employees with access to testing regardless of symptoms can be incredibly useful for employers.
There are two types of test available. Antibody tests show if someone has had Covid. Antigen tests show is someone has got Covid.
Antibody testing involves taking a blood sample to assess whether an employee has previously had the virus. Employers must be aware, however, that where people have previously been exposed to the virus there is currently no certainty about how long any potential immunity may last.
Antigen testing involves a swab sample being taken from the back of the throat and nose. This can identify if a member of staff currently has the virus. This enables businesses to act quickly to follow NHS guidelines and introduce self-isolation.
Helplines from reputable companies are an extremely valuable aspect of corporate Covid testing. These are arranged to assist employers and employees with interpreting the results and understanding a diagnosis. This is an important factor, with the implications of results not being quite as clear-cut as many people may expect. For example, having antibodies does not necessarily equal immunity. Both employers and employees have particularly valued the interpretation and analysis.
Where and when?
One advantage of private testing through an employer is that it can be undertaken locally and quickly. Corporate Covid testing is standalone, not part of private medical insurance, and can be paid for directly by the employer. Testing can be arranged by a specialist health and wellbeing adviser.
Covid testing is being used by employers to keep their businesses operating as smoothly as possible throughout this extremely difficult time.
However, it is crucial that employers still comply with regulations and act to provide a workplace that is as Covid-secure as possible. A range of safety measures still need to be in place, such as sanitising stations, socially distanced desks and workstations, or split shifts to reduce the number of staff onsite.
Brett Hill comments: “Covid testing has a valid place in keeping businesses operating during these difficult times, but it must not be the only strategy. Testing should be viewed by employers as one element of a larger health and wellbeing plan. Arranging the whole process of corporate Covid testing has offered a lifeline to busy employers who are already over-stretched by the virus, and this can play an important part in the wider health and wellbeing strategies to assist businesses through the pandemic and beyond. While testing can give staff more confidence in returning to the workplace, the full range of safety measures must still be in place and employers must consider the mental, as well as physical, impact that Covid can have on employees.”