Antibody testing could be needed to make employees safe at work

?Employers are considering introducing antibody testing in the workplace to ensure employees feel safe returning to work.

According to research from hVIVO, 82% of large employers are already considering antibody testing as part of their back to work strategy and 71% would be willing to offer antibody tests.

Yet the government has reversed its decision to make the tests a taxable benefit, meaning employees would have had to pay tax on a COVID-19 antigen test which could be taken out of their salaries.

The same tax exemption does not apply for antibody tests which hVIVO warns could damage the UK’s ability to recover effectively from the current epidemic and successfully manage a second wave.

Antigen tests use a nasal or throat swab to find proteins of the virus itself whereas antibody tests use blood samples to find evidence that the immune system has been infected.

Sixty-two per cent of employees said they would feel more comfortable returning to work if they were offered an antibody test.

Amy Wood, head of HR at education platform Twinkl, told HR magazine that health tracking was growing in popularity as a result of COVID-19.

“We have seen some companies checking temperatures, using thermal imaging, and various other ways to check their employee’s health, she said.

“As a business, we are currently using government advice to base our decisions and fortunately, we are a company well set up for home-working so this level of testing and tracking hasn’t been a consideration for us yet, however as we look at returning to the office it may be something that could become a focus.”

hVIVo conducted interviews with 50 large UK-based employers and over 1,000 employees.

Further reading:

Workers encouraged to return to work where possible

HR responds to COVID-19: software firm Personio

REC calls for equal PPE and testing for temporary health and care staff

Addressing anxiety on employees' return to work

Employees will bring new expectations when they return to workplace