22nd June 2021
Business employers have already shown the importance of taking steps to ensure a safe working environment for staff and customers. In this next stage of recovery, the businesses will also play a vital part in keeping the ongoing COVID-19 threat at bay, ensuring business continuity and helping to maintain a full workforce. There is no doubt that the roll out of the vaccination programme has been a tremendous success, but a small proportion of those who are fully vaccinated can still carry and transmit the virus to others.
We are all aware of the existing, well-established, measures in place for people who are displaying COVID-19 symptoms, with PCR tests available at specific testing sites dotted around NI. However, it is well known now that around a third of people who contract COVID-19 don’t feel or show any symptoms. To address this risk in the workplace, especially as business open up again and more staff work together in shared spaces, a new support service has been developed called Workforce Testing. Enabled by the NI Executive, they are now able to offer rapid testing kits using Lateral Flow Devices, to all business in Northern Ireland.
By participating in Workforce Testing, employers are protecting their workforces and their families, protecting customers, promoting consumer and supplier confidence, and helping to build economic recovery.
Who can access Asymptomatic Testing?
In Northern Ireland, anyone who cannot work from home is encouraged to participate in the asymptomatic testing programme.
What is the purpose of the programme?
- Asymptomatic testing seeks to identify these individuals quickly, and ensure that they and their close contacts can self-isolate. This approach helps to break chains of transmission in the workforce and beyond.
- Workforce asymptomatic testing is in addition to, and does not replace, a range of other measures in place in wider society, such as social distancing, hand hygiene and face coverings.
Who is eligible to apply?
- Organisations with more than 10 employees or volunteers who cannot work from home are now able to access the Workforce Asymptomatic Testing Programme.
- In addition, for smaller businesses, with less than 10 employees who cannot work from home there are a range of options currently available including the LFD Collect service from Local Testing Sites and the LFD Direct service – tests to be delivered to the employees home.
- Further detail can be found by visiting the website : Rapid Tests | Department of Health (health-ni.gov.uk)
What do we offer?
- The NI Executive have secured a supply of rapid tests for NI and these are being provided, free of charge, to eligible businesses and employees.
How to Apply?
- Expression of Interest Form: All employers who wish to participate in workforce testing schemes need to submit a complete an online expression of interest form. Once the Department of Health receives this form, the team will work with employers to identify the most appropriate form of testing available based on their requirements- and support you through the programme.
If you would like to speak with the Private Sector Lead, Clare Mullen, please email the DOH mailbox on firstname.lastname@example.org