Q&As

Can an employer insist on referring an employee for testing if they or a member of their household have Coronavirus symptoms? Can the employee refuse, and what happens if the employee refuses? Is there any legal force behind the government guidance on referral for testing?

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Published on LexisPSL on 01/05/2020

The following Employment Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Can an employer insist on referring an employee for testing if they or a member of their household have Coronavirus symptoms? Can the employee refuse, and what happens if the employee refuses? Is there any legal force behind the government guidance on referral for testing?

Can an employer insist on referring an employee for testing if they or a member of their household have Coronavirus symptoms? Can the employee refuse, and what happens if the employee refuses? Is there any legal force behind the government guidance on referral for testing?

According to the Government’s coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance on getting tested, as well as testing patients to confirm their clinical diagnosis, it is also testing:

  1. all essential workers, including NHS and social care workers with symptoms

  2. anyone aged over 65 with symptoms

  3. anyone with symptoms whose work cannot be done from home (for example, construction workers, shop workers, emergency plumbers and delivery drivers)

  4. anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus and lives with any of those identified above

Additionally, it is testing:

  1. social care workers and residents in care homes (with or without symptoms) both to investigate outbreaks and, following successful pilots, as part of a rolling programme to test all care homes

  2. NHS workers and patients without symptoms, in line with NHS England guidance

Information relating to a person’s health is special category data for the purposes of Regulation (EU) 2016/679, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). For further information generally on processing health information in the employment context, see Practice Note: Employee health information—data protection issues.

The government has published privacy information (described in the guidance on getting tested as a privacy notice)

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