Tracking your staff’s COVID testing and vaccination status

5 good reasons why it’s the responsible thing to do

 

Schools have been pathfinders. Large-scale lateral flow testing has been helping to keep them open, and businesses can follow suit. The government recently announced that small businesses (over 10 employees), not just larger companies, will have access to government funded Lateral Flow testing.  Many businesses have already adopted regular rapid testing, and others are planning to do the same when the country fully opens.

 

Outside a few key areas of business, adopting regular testing and vaccination status monitoring, is voluntary. Why should your business track your employee’s covid testing and vaccination status (with the proportion of vaccinated people increasing in the workforce, it now makes sense to record it at the same time)?:

 

  1. If you track it, you can make it systematic, transparent and fair. If you don’t you are at the mercy of office gossip and the potential for discrimination.
  2. This is useful information that protects not just your staff but also your clients and partners. You can use it for demonstrating that you care.
  3. You will make better decisions and hopefully avoid an outbreak at your workplace.
  4. It is what a responsible employer would do; looking after both staff and clients and support returning to normal as soon as we are able to.
  5. It is quite easy to do and once you start it can become a simple part of your workplace’s routine, just like washing hands and online calls.

 

As testing and vaccination status are sensitive topics, it is recommended that there is an open discussion with your staff: how do they feel about being tested and what risks do they see in adopting regular point of care testing. Through an open debate, you can easily provide information to staff. There is also support, if you need it. The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and NHS England provide lots of material for “moving the needle”:  https://www.rsph.org.uk/our-work/policy/vaccinations/moving-the-needle-promoting-vaccination-uptake-across-the-life-course.html

 

Once you and your staff have taken a decision, you will need a plan. A great place to start is by gathering together a Covid19 Toolkit and creating (or updating) your Communications Plan to include Covid19.

 

Some companies try to carry out testing but don’t record the outcome, or only record if somebody has reported positive. The BIG problem with this is what does an absence of result actually mean: was there a test that was negative or simply no test? How do you know/how can you check if somebody simply forgot to test or even forgot to send you the results after testing? Tricky. As well as knowing who did what, you also need to know who missed what and when.

 

Fortunately, the government is helping in two ways:

 

First, by providing test kits free of charge through the Workplace test scheme: https://www.gov.uk/get-workplace-coronavirus-tests.

 

They also funded, through Innovate UK, the development of a new online tool called WorkScreener Covid Manager that manages the entire process with a few clicks, supports bulk uploading of testing data and puts control and information into the hands of managers keen to ensure the safety of their workforce and customers. There is a small charge for this, which is much reduced by the funding that is in place.

 

Some employees would prefer to carry out tests in their home. This is a big bonus of rapid testing; they can collect a set of tests and keep using them, letting their employer know the results before they leave home. It is much better to find out that somebody tested positive before they come into the office, right? This is not something you want to do manually on a spreadsheet – it’s time consuming, open to errors, and difficult to keep sensitive information confidential. Although lots of people do send their results in emails, they do this without realising that this is sensitive information they are emailing and their HR manager should not be asking them to do this in the first place. Preferably, you need a system, like the WorkScreener Covid Manager, that works remotely and securely.

 

For example, let’s take a look at a firm of estate agents: they’ve decided that the best thing to keep their staff and clients safe, is regular testing of staff, and they built this into their local marketing campaign. They let potential house buyers and tenants know that testing staff is part of how they look after their customers. Virtual tours will only go so far, and regular testing helps when the next step, of an in-person visit, is necessary. The company is also recording testing of their regular contractors and maintenance providers. This is already a lot of data to gather, analyse and store. And the numbers will only increase once the country opens up and the market really picks up. This can all be done quite easily and quickly with a combination of Lateral Flow test kits from the Workplace Test Scheme and the WorkScreener Covid Manager software platform. Staff can test at home, pop their test details into WorkScreener and their office manager uploads the test details in bulk into NHS Test & Trace if required and supported.

 

Other companies prefer not to participate in the government scheme, but they still have the same obligations of keeping secure and confidential records.

 

We all hope that we’ll be back to near-normal soon and for businesses this is likely to mean a surge in enquiries and customers. By preparing yourself now you can be ready to make the most of the opportunities coming your way.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Marta Kalas is co-founder of Thomson Screening, creators of the WorkScreener Covid Manager, a software platform that enables businesses and testing providers to scale irrespective of where, how and what test is carried out.

Web: https://workscreener.com/services/covid-manager-business/

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