Free rapid Covid testing will be offered to all businesses with more than 10 employees in the government’s latest addition to their workplace testing programme.
Over 60,000 businesses across the country have already registered their interest to provide rapid tests to key workers.
And from April 6, the programme will supply home test kits to companies with over 10 workers.
Eligible businesses will be able to order the home test kits online and hand them out to employees.
Staff members will then be able to collect the self-test kits along with clear instructions on how to take the test.
The home tests are completed in the normal way and staff will then report their results to the NHS using the provided gov.uk address.
The workplace testing programme uses lateral flow tests (LFD) to rapidly detect the virus in 30 minutes.
It means those who test positive can isolate immediately and, in doing so, break chains of transmission and suppress the virus.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Rapid testing is a vital part of our roadmap, helping us to cautiously lift restrictions on our economy and society.
“Around one in three people with coronavirus do not have any symptoms, so extending employee testing from the workplace to the home will help us identify more cases we otherwise wouldn’t find, prevent further transmission and save lives.
“60,000 businesses across the country have already registered for free, regular and rapid tests and I encourage many more to take up the offer, helping to keep their employees and their families safe.”
Businesses are encouraged to register before April 12 in order to access free tests until the end of June, even if they’re not yet open or are not able to start using the tests straight away.
As well as reporting their result directly to the NHS, employees should advise their employer of a positive result and take a confirmatory PCR test.
Matthew Fell, CBI Chief UK Policy Director, said: “Mass, rapid workplace testing is an essential pillar of the roadmap for reopening, alongside the vaccine rollout.
“Having the option for staff to test at home will enable more firms to embrace workplace testing, as not all employers will have the space or facilities to run testing programmes on their premises.
“The move to home testing reflects ongoing, high quality dialogue between business and government.
“We’d encourage as many firms as possible to register before the 12 April deadline, as part of their broader efforts to keep staff and customers safe.”
Employers with fewer than 10 people can alternatively access regular testing through the community testing programme, which is now offered by all local authorities in England.
Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium said: “The BRC welcomes the proposal to extend the workplace testing programme to include home testing.
“This is something we have called for as the next step for smaller businesses and stores where the space for testing at work is limited. It is also supported by employees as a practical approach.”
Around one in three people with coronavirus don’t have symptoms, which means they could be spreading the virus in workplaces without knowing.
Regular, rapid testing is already in place for millions of people across the NHS, care homes and schools.