Clive Dobbin and Emma Ship | 9th April 2021

Free lateral flow test kits for the workplace – Deadline for registration: 11:59pm on 12 April 2021

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Clive Dobbin and Emma Ship | 9th April 2021

Free lateral flow test kits for the workplace – Deadline for registration: 11:59pm on 12 April 2021


The government has made several different options available to employers for lateral flow testing in the workplace. Employers were originally given the option to register to receive free lateral flow tests for their employees to be conducted by employers on site. The deadline to register for this initial scheme was 31 March 2021.

The Government subsequently widened the options for employers, offering free lateral flow test kits for employers to provide employees to test at home to all businesses with 10 employees or more. Employers that wish to receive this free tests from late April must registered by 11.59pm on 12 April 2021. Employers can register for this scheme here.

As the UK finds itself easing out of the third lockdown, regular testing is being introduced as a vital part of the roadmap to ease restrictions. From 9 April 2021 in addition to the schemes for employers, all individuals will be able to take a free rapid coronavirus (COVID-19) test twice a week. Details of this scheme can be found here.

Registering for lateral flow test kits

Businesses can now register to order free lateral flow tests for their employees. The government are emphasising that 1 in 3 people with Coronavirus do not have symptoms. The virus could easily be spreading in the workplace without businesses knowing, leading to many employees having to self-isolate and some feeling unwell.

Regular testing may help this and allow businesses to stay open and operational and may prevent an outbreak of the virus. Although all those who can work from home are still being encouraged to do so, for those businesses where working from home is not a viable option, the free testing scheme will provide assistance and some peace of mind for employers. By broadening testing to those at the workplace who are not displaying Coronavirus symptoms, positive cases will be found quicker and break the chain of transmission.

How to register for the free tests?

Over 3,500 businesses have signed up to the government free testing programme for the workplace and over 14,000 have registered interest in relation to rapid testing.

Businesses have until the deadline of 12 April 2021 to register for the government’s workplace testing scheme. This will be free for businesses until the end of June.

Follow the instructions on the government’s website to sign up to the free workplace COVID-19 testing scheme.

To sign up for the testing scheme, you will need:

  • the name of your company;
  • your company registration number; and
  • an email address.

How does the test work?

  • The government scheme will provide lateral flow testing which is a fast and simple way to test people who are not displaying symptoms of COVID-19. The tests are easy to use and will give results in less than 30 minutes. The government have confirmed that they require minimal training to operate.
  • If an employee tests positive from the lateral flow testing, they must immediately self-isolate to avoid passing the virus to others, including their co-workers.
  • The government are recommending that the testing should be performed twice a week.

The government have confirmed that these tests should be used for precautionary protection for employers’ workforces. If any employee has one of the three main symptoms (being a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or loss of sense of smell or taste), they must self-isolate and take an ordinary PCR test.

The government have laid out three options to use their free testing programme:

  1. Employer-led set-up (DIY)
  2. Use a third-party provider
  3. Community testing

The employer-led set-up option provides that employers can set up their own on-site testing programmes which will run outside of that which currently exists with the NHS Test and Trace service.
The third-party provider option gives employers the ability to provide an on-site COVID-19 testing service via third-party private sector providers. Employers will need to pay for this service provision, but the tests themselves will still be provided for free by the government. The employer will still need to order the test kits and the third-party provider will organise and run the testing on the employer’s behalf.

The community testing option provides that, for organisations in the public and private sector that have fewer than 50 employees, access to testing can be carried out through local authorities who are establishing testing sites for those without symptoms within their local areas.

If you have any further questions relating to the Workplace COVID-19 Free Testing Scheme, please contact a member of the Employment team.