Last reviewed 27 July 2021

The Government has told employers that they can no longer order free rapid lateral flow tests for their employees.

In future, they must either buy their own tests and set up their own workplace testing or pay an approved provider to provide tests or run a test site for them. Details of these providers can be found at GOV.UK.

If it is not possible to provide testing, employers in England are advised to ask their employees to get a rapid lateral flow test at home or at a test site.

Separate advice is available for employers in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland with links to the relevant guidance available at

The decision to no longer supply free lateral flow tests to employers has been sharply criticised by a leading trade union. Unite has warned that the decision will lead to an increase in exposure to Covid-19 in the workplace.

The union has pointed out that the decision to end free testing in sectors such as social care, construction and retail and hospitality ― where workers may be reluctant or unable to access testing for themselves — could lead to a further significant increase in infections.

Unite Assistant General Secretary Gail Cartmail said: “Responsible employers who are ensuring that their workers are regularly undertaking lateral flow tests should be congratulated for their public spirited approach. Instead they are now being told to source tests from a private provider, which will dramatically increase costs.”

The union fears that some employers will simply stop testing due to the increased cost and the complications.