FAQs on COVID-19 Testing and Vaccinations for London’s Businesses and Employers
England moved to step four of the roadmap for easing coronavirus restrictions on 19 July, and many of the legal restrictions that the Government has imposed through the pandemic have been lifted. New guidance has been published to help businesses work safely during COVID-19 following the move to step four. Please click here to see the latest guidance.
These questions and answers are being reviewed and updated regularly.
However, if you don’t find an answer to your question then you can submit it for us to review. We will endeavour to answer those questions not already covered.
Find out what you need to know to control the spread of the coronavirus.
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Find advice and guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19) below by searching the FAQs.
Testing and travel if your staff cannot work from home
Our staff cannot work from home, how can they access testing?
There are three options available to businesses who wish to provide testing for their employees. Where staff are not able to work from home it is recommended that they are offered access to lateral flow testing a minimum of twice per week.
1. Order free lateral flow tests for your employees
Businesses registered with the lateral flow test service can order free rapid lateral flow tests for their employees who cannot work from home until 30 June 2021, here. The deadline to register for this service was 31 March.
This service is available to all businesses registered in England, it does not matter how many people a business employs.
2. Set up a testing service using a third party provider
Some businesses may choose to partner with a third party to provide a testing service for employees. The Department for Health and Social care has put together a list of providers and also guidance on using this option. This is available here.
3. Advise employees to test a local community asymptomatic testing centre
Community asymptomatic testing facilities are being provided by local authorities. Employees may be able to access free and regular testing for coronavirus via community asymptomatic testing in their local borough, even if they are not displaying symptoms (a fever, a new continuous cough or a loss of smell and/or taste). If their local Borough does not have tests available they may be able to access a test through the Borough they work in.
The availability and opening times and site locations for these community testing facilities can be found here.
All three of these options make use of lateral flow tests which are rapid tests which provide results within an hour.
Whichever option you choose, it is important that you are clear about the implications of a positive and a negative test result, including what actions need to be taken for each result and the support that you will need to provide staff who are tested. Further information on lateral flow tests is available here.
In particular, staff who receive a negative test result but subsequently develop symptoms must self-isolate immediately and order an NHS test online or by calling 119, even if their negative test was very recent. Staff who receive a positive result must self-isolate immediately.
Anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 (a fever, a new continuous cough or a loss of smell and/or taste) should request an NHS test online or call 199.
Remember: Coronavirus levels in London are very high and the chance of employees being exposed and infected are higher than ever.
Our staff cannot work from home. How can they to travel to work safely?
TfL continue to provide a good service on the network.
You can help to ensure the safety of your workforce, and others travelling, by staggering shifts and/or changing operating hours to help employees avoid travelling during the busiest times of 06:00 to 08:00 and 16:00 to 17:30.
If possible, you can also allocate shifts that start and finish around peak travel times to workers who can walk or cycle to and from work.
TfL’s Quiet Times webpage is a useful tool for employees that gives quiet times for each station.
Our staff cannot work from home. Can they receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
Your staff can receive a COVID-19 vaccination if they are eligible according to the vaccine priority list.
The priority list sets out the order in which people will be offered the COVID-19 vaccine and is based on the advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). This committee is made up of an independent group of experts that advises the government health departments on immunisations. When deciding on the order of vaccination they consider safety, how effective the vaccine will be, and the impact of vaccination strategies. They have set out the list of high priority groups for the COVID-19 vaccine:
- Residents in care homes for older adults and their carers
- People aged 80 and over, and frontline health and social care workers
- People aged 75 and over
- People aged 70 and over and those who are clinically extremely vulnerable
- People aged 65 and over with underlying health conditions
- People over 60
- People over 55
- People over 50
The full advice from JCVI on prioritisation is available here.
Staff will be contacted directly by the NHS when it is their turn and should not turn up to a vaccination centre without an appointment.
Your employees will need to be registered at a local GP surgery in England to be invited to have the COVID-19 vaccine. They should register with a GP if they do not already have one and make sure their GP practice has the most up to date contact information.
Remember: The COVID-19 vaccine will always be available free of charge. The NHS will never ask people to share bank details to confirm their identity or ask them to pay for the vaccine.
As a business we have resources and/or expertise which we think would be beneficial to those planning and delivering vaccinations, how can we offer this?
Vaccine delivery is being co-ordinated by the NHS.
Offers from businesses to support the roll out of vaccination, including resources, expertise in planning or delivery of events and services or venues to conduct vaccination can be made through the Vaccine Programme Board. If you wish to make such an offer, please email: email@example.com
What can businesses do to support the roll out of COVID-19 vaccinations?
Employers can help by building trust in the COVID-19 vaccine, providing factual information and encourage and support employees to respond to vaccine invitations and attend vaccine appointments.
It is vital that people have good information about the vaccine and businesses can help by:
- Sharing information from trusted sources such as the NHS.
- Ensuring employees understand the prioritisation system for the vaccine and know when it is their turn to be called for vaccination.
- Reminding staff to check that their GP has up to date contact details for them and if they are not registered with a GP encourage them to do so.
- Warning staff about fraud and scams related to the vaccine. It is important to remember that the COVID-19 vaccine will always be available free of charge. The NHS will never ask for people to share bank details to confirm their identity or ask them to pay for the vaccine. No one needs to apply for the vaccine.
- Providing employees with the necessary time off to receive their own vaccinations or to help anyone that they care for or support to receive their vaccination. There are some common side effects of the vaccine and employers and businesses should allow time off if needed employees need to manage these side effects.
- The vaccine roll out has provided a number of opportunities for people to volunteer their time. Businesses can support the vaccine roll out by promoting and supporting employees to take up these opportunities. More information on volunteering opportunities is available here.
While the vaccine is an essential part of preventing serious illness and deaths from COVID-19, we do not yet know if it will stop people catching or passing on the virus. Therefore, there is a chance people might still get or spread coronavirus even if they have had the vaccine. This means businesses should continue to promote public health guidance and rules to employees and consider ways of making workplaces safer. More information on the coronavirus rules in London.
Staff should also be reminded to always:
- Keep a safe distance from others. Stay two metres apart from people they do not live with as much as possible.
- Wear a face covering wherever it is not possible keep a safe distance from others, this includes at any busy outdoor public places. It is mandatory to wear a face covering on public transport and in shops.
- Wash hands frequently and carry hand sanitiser when out.
- Keep indoor spaces well ventilated. If staff must have people in their homes, such as those doing maintenance, open windows and doors when you can to allow fresh air to circulate.
- Anyone who develops COVID-19 symptoms (high temperature, continuous cough, loss or change of taste or smell) should self-isolate immediately and request a test as soon as possible
Information on keeping workplaces safe is available here.
Step Four and Working Safely During COVID-19
Advice on working safely during COVID-19.
Step Four and Easing COVID-19 Restrictions
Overview of changes following the move to step four.
COVID-19 Workplace Checklist
A guide for employers operating during COVID-19.