Last reviewed 8 February 2021

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced a drive to increase workplace testing in sectors open during lockdown in order to detect coronavirus in people who are not showing symptoms.

Previously, to join the workplace rapid testing programme, businesses had to have more than 250 employees but that number will now be reduced to 50.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Employers should regularly test their staff, and this drive across government to raise awareness and encourage more businesses to introduce rapid testing for employees is incredibly important”.

Given that around one in three people have the virus without symptoms and could potentially infect people without even knowing it, he went on, it becomes clear why focusing testing on those without symptoms is so essential.

Urging businesses and employees across the country to take up this offer of rapid testing, Mr Hancock said that the DHSC would be targeting the food industry, retail sector and transport network, as well as the public sector.

More than 2.5 million tests have been distributed across the public and private sectors so far, and an online portal has now been launched to make it easier for business in the private sector to get involved and find out more about offering rapid testing in the workplace.

This can be found at https://www.gov.uk/get-workplace-coronavirus-tests and is available to businesses registered in England, provided they employ at least 50 people.

Dr Samantha Phillips, Head of Health and Wellbeing at Transport for London (TfL), said: “We have been part of a DHSC pilot whereby employees can volunteer to do twice-weekly rapid antigen testing. We have had an enthusiastic response to the pilot and employees are finding it reassuring, particularly if they have vulnerable relatives at home or family members who are also key workers”.