As a full re-opening looks possible on 19th July it might give customers more confidence if you could say that you required all staff to take Covid tests but is mandatory testing a good idea?

Mandatory testing is a much-debated issue with Government statistics claiming that 1 in 3 people with Covid show no symptoms. There is no legal requirement to introduce mandatory staff testing and it does carry risks.

Risks of mandatory testing

  • testing is invasive and uncomfortable.
  • if an otherwise healthy employee tests positive they will have to take a PCR test and then isolate which will have a financial impact on them – most staff in the hospitality sector will not be able to work from home.

Is it discriminatory to require testing?

Mandatory testing may be discriminatory with some staff having valid religious or medical grounds for refusing to be tested. You may be able to justify mandatory testing on health and safety grounds but only if you can show that testing is appropriate and proportionate given the health and safety risks.

A better approach may be to encourage staff to take tests rather than making it mandatory.

Practical tips

  • You should consult with employees before you introduce workplace testing.
  • Introduce a testing policy which explains why testing is appropriate and what you expect of staff.
  • Consider the GDPR implications of handling sensitive personal data.
  • A written policy is a useful way of communicating with staff and it ensures that everyone understands what will be expected of them.

Further guidance

ACAS has produced useful guidance on workplace Covid testing which can be found here

For further information contact Charlotte Rees-John


The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the present time and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.