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07 Jun 2021


COVID-19 workplace testing: what you need to know

As coronavirus testing options increase and returns to the workplace begin to look more realistic, it's a good idea to know what your options are regarding workplace testing.

Who is testing for?

At the time of writing, working from home is still the default advice. But the UK government wants as many employers as possible to introduce a workplace testing programme for staff who can't work from home. This drive is mainly aimed at employers with 50 staff or more, but there are also options for smaller businesses.

Workplace testing isn't for those with coronavirus symptoms (they should get a PCR test themselves through the NHS). Instead, the purpose is to catch asymptomatic staff, i.e. those who have COVID-19 but not symptoms – about 1 in 3 with coronavirus don't have symptoms, but can still pass it on.

Therefore, workplace testing focuses on 'lateral flow' tests. These detect antigens (proteins) produced by the virus and give results in 30 minutes.

Arranging tests

It's up to you to decide if you want to implement testing, but the UK government recommends that larger employers (50+ employees) offer their on-site staff access to at least 2 lateral flow tests every week. You can choose to:

  • buy your own tests and set up your own workplace testing;
  • pay an approved provider to provide tests or run a test site for you; or
  • if there are problems setting these up, buy tests for staff to test themselves.

If you employ fewer than 50, you're free to do the same. However, UK government guidance suggests you can instead ask on-site staff to order their own free tests via GOV.UK, or to get a test at a local testing site. Again, they should do this twice a week.

Voluntary testing

Ideally you should introduce testing on a voluntary basis, with a clear workplace testing policy and communication plan. Consult staff about your plans - explain why you're asking them to be tested and the benefits of doing so. Listen to what they say.

You should also consider the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) guidance on workplace testing.

Can you make testing mandatory?

There's currently no legal obligation for workplace testing. So, you might find it difficult to justify a blanket requirement that all staff must be tested. But, if it's something you want to consider, there are 2 possible ways of going about it.

First, employees have a duty under the general law to obey the lawful and reasonable orders of their employers. So, you could possibly argue that taking a workplace test is a lawful and reasonable instruction. But what's 'reasonable' will be different for every workforce and workplace. It'll likely depend on the risk and implications of COVID-19 for your particular setting. For example, mandatory testing may be reasonable if you can't put in place other COVID-secure measures. Get legal advice if you think requiring testing may be justified as it'll depend hugely on your circumstances.

Second, you could change an employee's contract to add a testing requirement. However, this is potentially problematic. You'll need their agreement – if you make the change without it, you'll break the contract and its original terms will remain in place. This could lead to claims of breach of contract, unfair dismissal or constructive dismissal.

Again, get legal advice before trying to make testing a part of staff contracts.

In summary, if you want to impose a mandatory testing requirement, you must first:

  • undertake a detailed risk assessment to show why COVID-19 testing is required on top of the stringent COVID-secure guidelines already in place;
  • consult with workplace representatives or trade unions where applicable; and
  • get legal advice.

What can you do if an employee refuses to take a test?

If you have lawfully and reasonably introduced a mandatory testing requirement, you may be able to take disciplinary action, but only if the employee can't work from home.

Before that, you should find out their reasons and see if you can address those concerns. If an employee has valid medical reasons for refusing a test, you'll need to consider the situation particularly carefully – disciplinary action in those circumstances may be difficult to justify and could even be disability discrimination. If the employee can't work from home, you may be able to discipline the employee for failing to follow reasonable management instructions, but only if their refusal is not reasonable.

You must always allow for exceptions. Listen to any concerns and objections the employee has and take them seriously. Even if you've put in place a policy or contractual requirement, you won't be entitled to act on it if your employee's refusal is reasonable in all the circumstances.

Can you send an employee home without pay if they refuse to take a test?

Unless you're contractually entitled to suspend them without pay (which is rare), sending an employee home on nil pay for refusing to take a test could lead to a claim for unlawful deductions from wages. Get legal advice before making any decision to withhold pay.

What happens if an employee tests positive?

An employee who tests positive must self-isolate for 10 days unless they're then told to take a PCR test and that returns negative.

If an employee has been tested as part of a UK government-registered workplace testing programme, their test results will be shared automatically with NHS Test and Trace, their local GP, and Public Health England via the workplace testing e-system. NHS Test and Trace may identify the employee's close contacts and they may be required to self-isolate too. This could include colleagues at work.

Employees who test at home only have to tell you their test result if it's positive.

Does testing mean you can relax existing safety measures?

Workplace testing should continue to be used alongside existing COVID-secure measures for the time being. You should remind your staff to continue to follow those COVID measures and not to relax their efforts.

Data protection

If you collect test data, including the results of employee tests, you must handle it as special category data in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018.

The ICO guidance makes clear that employers considering requiring testing must conduct a data protection impact assessment focusing on testing and the new risks it will create.

Unnecessary data should not be collected and strict confidentiality and data security are essential.

You may also need to update your employer's privacy notice.

More information

See GOV.UK for the latest testing guidance – it's likely to change and evolve over the coming months. We'll also continue to update you with the latest developments.

There is separate guidance for employers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

New Debt Respite Scheme comes into force

New regulations came into force in England and Wales on 4 May to help those struggling with serious money problems. This Debt Respite Scheme is a permanent change rather than a temporary COVID measure. It could grant you critical breathing space if you're in debt, but at the same time impose potentially problematic delays if you're owed money.

What is the scheme?

If a person – which includes a sole trader with business debts – is struggling to pay what they owe, they may be able to get a formal period of 'breathing space'. During this, those they owe money to can't take any action or even contact them about the debt. Any interest or other charges must also be frozen. The idea is the person can use the time to get advice and form a plan to pay off their debts.

There are 2 types of breathing space:

  1. Standard breathing space

This lasts for 60 days, although can be cancelled before then. To get it, the person must speak to a professional debt advice provider. The provider can grant the breathing space period if they think it's appropriate in the circumstances.

  1. Mental health crisis breathing space

To be eligible for this, the person must be receiving mental health crisis treatment as defined in the debt respite scheme. It lasts for however long their mental health crisis treatment lasts, plus 30 days after that treatment ends. It can be cancelled before then.

The person doesn't have to get debt advice from a debt advice provider – instead, an approved mental health professional can certify that they're receiving mental health crisis treatment and provide the required information to a debt advice provider.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible for either type of breathing space, the person must be living in England or Wales. The debt must be a qualifying debt. Most debts are qualifying debts, including those that arose before the debt respite scheme came into force.

Debts that arise after a breathing space period starts are not qualifying debts. Other non-qualifying debts include any new arrears on secured debts, such as a mortgage.

A person can only get a standard breathing space once in any 12-month period. However, they may be able to get a mental health crisis breathing space if they've already had a breathing space (of either kind).

A debt advisor should only grant a standard breathing space if the person can't, or is unlikely to be able to, repay all or some of their debt.

What happens during a breathing space?

If the person is granted breathing space, the Insolvency Service tell the people who are owed the money. Those people must then stop any attempts to recover the debt until the breathing space period is over. This includes (among other things):

  • Collecting the debt
  • Contacting the person to enforce the debt, including to demand payment or as a precursor to legal action
  • Charging any interest or other fees (for accruing interest, the clock effectively stops during the breathing space period)
  • Starting legal action
  • Enforcing a court or tribunal judgment or order, even if it was got before the breathing space
  • Serving notice to take possession (or taking possession after serving notice) of their home

The people owed money also can't instruct someone else (e.g. a solicitor or a debt collection agency) to do any of these things on their behalf. And if they've already done it when breathing space is granted, it's their responsibility to then tell whoever they've instructed (as they'll be liable for any loss that's suffered as a result).

The only allowed contact is if the person who owes money asks a question, makes a complaint or wants to talk about a solution.

Getting a breathing space period cancelled

If the person owed money feels that the breathing space unfairly prejudices their interests or that there's some reason why it shouldn't have been granted, they can request that the debt advice provider reviews it. If after that they still aren't happy, they can appeal to the county court to ask for it to be cancelled.

More information

We've added sections on the scheme to our law guide, and updated the guidance in our Debt collection letters for unpaid invoices. For extra information, see GOV.UK.

Employee who stopped work over COVID-19 concerns was fairly dismissed rules tribunal

An employer who sacked an employee after they stayed away from the workplace over concerns about coronavirus has successfully defended an Employment Tribunal claim.

The employee was relying on a protection under the Employment Rights Act. This states that if an employee reasonably believes they're in serious and imminent danger, they must not suffer any detriment if they refuse to go to work or take appropriate steps to protect themselves as a result.

In April we reported that this protection is being extended to workers (as well as employees) from the end of May. Its use has rarely cropped up in the past, but the pandemic has made it more relevant to current health and safety work practices and environments. This appears to be the first time a court or tribunal has had to assess it in relation to the pandemic.

The case

The employee worked in a large warehouse. The workplace remained open during the March 2020 lockdown. The employer implemented government safety guidance and told staff about the measures it had put in place so that they could continue working. These included social distancing, wiping down surfaces, offering masks, and staggering start, finish and break times.

The employee developed a cough, which he thought resulted from the temperature and dust in the warehouse. He texted his manager, stating he was staying away from the workplace until the lockdown had eased, as he was worried about infecting his 2 vulnerable children with COVID-19 (tests were not available at that time). His manager replied, seemingly approving it.

There was no further contact between them for nearly a month, at which point the employee learned he'd been dismissed. He then started the tribunal claim for automatic unfair dismissal.

The tribunal agreed that the employee must have had significant concerns at the time, generally about the pandemic and specifically about his 2 children.

However, the tribunal decided that despite these concerns, the employee had not taken any steps to avert danger or raised concerns with his manager before sending his text message. Nor had he mentioned any concerns about workplace danger in the text he sent. He also breached self-isolation guidance to drive a friend to hospital the day after leaving work.

This, together with the safety steps taken by his employer, led the tribunal to conclude he could not show there had been any danger at the workplace. It also rejected his claim that COVID-19 created a situation of serious and imminent workplace danger regardless of an employer's safety precautions – accepting this would have meant any employee could leave the workplace simply by virtue of the pandemic.

What this means for you

As always, this decision is not binding on any other tribunal. The facts are also unusual in that the employee's evidence was vague and contradictory. All such cases will depend on their own facts. In particular, employees might have different circumstances that are important, such as serious health conditions.

However, the case is welcome news for employers. It also demonstrates the importance of implementing appropriate COVID-19 safety measures, as they were a key part of the employer's defense.

COVID-19 round-up: right-to-work checks; shielders can still be furloughed

Two quick changes to note this month:

  1. Temporary changes to the 'right to work' employer check were due to end on 16 May, but will now instead end on 20 June 2021. As a result of the pandemic, you can temporarily make these checks via video call or by viewing scans or photos of documents over email (rather than seeing the originals). However, the process will return to normal from 21 June. You won't don't need to redo any checks that you made using the temporary measures (provided you did so properly).
  1. Shielding has been paused again – while those who have been told they no longer need to shield are no longer eligible for statutory sick pay, the government has confirmed that they remain eligible to be put on furlough and claimed for under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.



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Rebecca: 07748 156505

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I have just completed the course, the support received from Emma throughout was second to none! I started the course having recently taken on the role as Treatment Coordinator and the knowledge and skills acquired has allowed me to progress in the role. The whole process was smooth and informative and I would recommend it to anyone. Thanks Emma for all of your help!

Molly Rolinson, Higher Skills in Dental Care Coordination

Absolutely loved this course, it pushed my current knowledge to a higher level and taught me a lot about myself along the way. Gaining the knowledge that I did and then putting it into assignments was tough at times, but the feedback from Glenys and the verifier made me feel more confident in what I have learnt and also in my role at work, this course has definitely given me the skills for career progression, and I would recommend it to any dental nurse wanting to progress in the field. Glenys is a down to earth tutor with vast knowledge and understanding and is very approachable, her live tutorials are invaluable.

Sue M, Higher Skills for Lead Dental Nurses

great course, learnt lots of new information that i can use daily

Rebecca Renehan , Advanced Team Leading Skills for Dental Nurses

This is an in-depth course that covers many aspects of management and leadership, it encourages you to think outside the box and introduces different methods and scientific theories. I feel my understanding of correct leadership and management has changed for the better as I am applying what I've learned so far into my daily practice. I have been fortunate enough to be assigned to Mrs Gill Adaire who shared her knowledge and experience with me and taught the course content in a way that was so enjoyable and interesting and easy for me to learn. Her dedication, understanding, and support were beyond anything that I expected. I feel that I have been supported fully throughout the course. This course is definitely worth a lot more and I would highly recommend Glenys Bridges &Partners Practice Pathways. I would like to thank you for giving me this incredible opportunity and I am also looking forward to continuing my learning with you in the near future!

Arezoo Wilson, Introduction to Practice Management (Induction Course)


SY, Introduction to rubber dam for dental nurses-Individual CPD

I am very happy to have done this course, especially with Gill Adaire as my teacher in this Mentoring Skills course. The course is well designed, particularly for people like me who are interested in but don't know where to start. I learnt how to plan a structured programme which would benefit me as a mentor as well as my future mentees, in making them confident to take ethical and clinically appropriate decisions. I felt the high point of this course is the flexibility to access the teacher according to my work/personal life schedule. This gave me more freedom to do this at my own pace, rather than set one by someone else. The course has now given me the confidence to train someone and be a mentor to a new dentist and also guide them through the intricacies of dentistry in the UK. My tutor was excellent - engaged, worked on my reflective practice, allowing me to engage myself in the process at my pace. I believe the course is well designed and has the best way to support upcoming mentors. I thank you for the opportunity to learn from the best.

Dr.Anil Shet, First Steps in Peer Mentoring Skills

Just completed this course, and I felt totally supported by my tutor Emma all the way through. It was a very informative course and I feel confident moving forward within the role. Will definitely be using the company again for any other courses going forward. 5 star all the way

Sarah Larkin, Higher Skills in Dental Care Coordination

Oh Gosh! what can i say ... Iam thrilled to bits i started this Reception Lead Course. It has given me more of an insight and more knowledge of the understanding of Reception Lead. I feel more aware of my surroundings and the empathy needed within my Job Role. Gill Adaire is the calmest, most considerate person and a joy to talk to. The knowledge Gill has given me to make me a better leader is hard to put into words. The support and advice that Gill has given me have helped my journey into this new chapter. Since starting this course i have been thinking more about how i can improve more of the areas surrounding the Lead Receptionist Role. I have gained confidence so thank you Gill Adaire for your patience and time i will be doing more courses in the near future. Kind Regards. .

Angela Lovat., Introduction to the Lead Receptionist Role

A big thank you to Emma Farrell! This course has been valuable to my dental practice. My employer is impressed with the skills and knowledge I have gained from doing this course!!

Mary Swoffer, Higher Skills in Dental Care Coordination

Overall, my experience since starting the course has been really good, I have learnt a lot considering I was a little apprehensive about doing a course online because I have dyslexia I was worried how I’ll upload work and if I’ll learn over zoom, but having that 1 to 1 tutor time made it so much easier/calmer for me, and it felt like it wasn’t a race, I wasn’t shy asking questions and I was at my own pace. I couldn’t of asked for a better tutor, Emma has a lot of knowledge and we always found ourselves laughing in the sessions, I seriously don’t think I would have done this course this quick if it wasn’t for Emma, the level of support was amazing, Emma was always on the other end of the phone if I wasn’t sure about anything before handing my work in. I feel like I’ve achieved so much and I feel like I’m going to give my own patients the best care when they come in to see me.

Mariangela Saudella, Higher Skills in Dental Care Coordination

I’ve just completed this course and found it to be very well structured & informative. Due to the distance learning aspect, it can be fitted around family and work commitments. My tutor Emma was very helpful & supportive throughout. Highly recommend this course :)

Debra Hewitt, Higher Skills in Dental Care Coordination

It is a worthful to do as a dentist because it is a part of hygiene for the patients and the dental team as well as I came to know that how it benefitted in covid era.

A.S.T., Introduction to rubber dam for dental nurses-Individual CPD

Thank you for guiding me through this course which is full of valuable information for dental receptionists early in their career. The zoom meetings really help to understand the work and the videos help to reinforce learning.

Gill Adaire, Introduction to Dental Reception Skills 2023

I found the course very interesting. It gave me more confidence in my job role. I felt the course was at the right level, that if I neeeded advice or support I knew it was always available. To any Lead nurse I would advise to do the course as I feel that it helps you understand the role, understand how to look after and support your team and to feel confident in what you say.

Marie, Higher Skills for Lead Dental Nurses

I found the course very interesting. It gave me more confidence in my job role. I felt the course was at the right level, that if I neeeded advice or support I knew it was always available. To any Lead nurse I would advise to do the course as I feel that it helps you understand the role, understand how to look after and support your team and to feel confident in what you say.

Marie, Higher Skills for Lead Dental Nurses

Wow what can I say...So happy I did the course. I was extremely nervous about doing this course and finding the right one. Emma is such a pleasure to deal with. Having one on one meetings made me feel so much more comfortable, she gives you as much time as you need, always available for any support and advice. The course is brilliant, learnt so much information ready to start my journey being an Implant nurse. Feel like I've come away with so much information not just in this field but to help me in my day to day role in my practice. Would definitely recommend this course.

BB, Introduction to Implant Dental Nursing- Individual CPD

I love the course. Give so much self esteem. Its very easy and the tutorial have all info for you to do your work. The best is the teacher Edita how makes the lessons so easy and fun. I always looking forward for new lesson the learn new thinks.

Rasa, Advanced Dental Practice Management Skills

I have just completed the advanced dental practice management skills S3 and I have learned so much from the course. It has given me the tools and knowledge to put what I have learned in daily practice. It's given me the confidence and empowerment to put my new found skills into action. The student portal is very east to navigate and the ongoing support from Glenys has been fantastic and never felt under any pressure as you are able to go at your own pace. To have a formal practice management qualification is a great feeling. Many thanks Glenys.

Claire Maloney, Advanced Dental Practice Management Skills

I have learned so much form completing this course. I am able to put all aspects into daily practice and the improvements made have been very beneficial both to myself and my employer. I was very fortunate to be under the wing of Glenys who supported me through both my professional and personal life. The amount of encouragement I received has truly made a long lasting impression on me. I have developed as a person as well as a leader for my team. I cant recommend Glenys and the course highly enough and I think it should be a necessity for all CQC registered Managers to complete. This course has encouraged me to develop me knowledge and career much much further and I cant wait to see what results I get! Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity.

Sammi Coidan, Level 5 Diploma for Dental CQC Registered Managers (RQF)

This course is very informative it gets you thinking of how to deal with complex situations. i am thoroughly enjoying this course and it has been challenging at times but Glenys has dealt with how I understand the concept of management

DL, Advanced Dental Practice Management Skills

Fantastic well structured course. It made clinical governance and auditing process so much more simpler to carry out.

Nirav Thakker, Team Development- Getting it Right- Clinical Governance and Audit

The first steps in Implant Dental Nursing course has given me all the basic knowledge I require to start Implant nursing.Emma has been an amazing tutor and has given me so many tips and advice. The course has really helped me with understand what I can and can’t do when I have donned and sterile. It has also taught me the terminology I need and how I can track the patients progress which I stered using in practice straight away. Brilliant course and would recommend it to anyone starting out with Implants

Hannah Berwick, First Steps in Implant Dental Nursing

I found this course extremely helpful in explaining how I as a dental nurse can help to assist the dentists and the patient during a rubber dam procedure. I am interested in completing further training in placing rubber dam myself, especially with the current circumstances p.

Hannah Berwick , Introduction to rubber dam for dental nurses-Individual CPD

It helped me understand why a rubber dam is used

Ss, Introduction to rubber dam for dental nurses-Individual CPD

I really enjoyed learning what it takes to become a care coordinator and the skills needed. Emma was such a great help in developing my knowledge beyond my potential. I am really grateful that that I had her as a tutor as she made me gain further understanding of how this role should be applied in practice. I am looking forward to put this new qualification to use and I hope to pick up more qualifications from this platform :)

Sarah Nsiah- Amoakoh, Higher Skills in Dental Care Coordination

I found this implant dental nursing ECPD course extremely useful. I am the lead dental nurse at my practice and we are in the process of our new implantologist starting. I knew nothing about implant nursing before this course but now I know terminology, the difference between a sterilised nurse and a non sterilised nurse, the correct way to set up the surgery and so much more. This has given me the basic knowledge I require to assist our implantologist.

Hannah Berwick, Introduction to Implant Dental Nursing- Individual CPD

My third course with Glenys and I would definitely recommend to anyone great help along the way and flexible tutorial times ! Can’t wait to start the next one!!

Lucy Willis, Lead Roles for Care Excellence 2020-Active In-house virtual CPD

My third course with Glenys and I would definitely recommend to anyone great help along the way and flexible tutorial times ! Can’t wait to start the next one!!

Lucy Willis, Lead Roles for Care Excellence 2020-Active In-house virtual CPD

I recently completed the Advanced Team Leading Skills for Dental Nurses S-1. I have 20 years experience of working as a dental nurse and stepped into the role of a lead nurse a few years ago. Although I am a very experienced nurse I initially found stepping into this role a bit tough as I wasn't used to managing others and didn't like asking the other nurses to do things. I would actually do them by myself rather than ask. Throughout this course I learnt that it is important to allocate and delegate tasks to the other nurses.This gives me time to do other tasks I have to do and also makes the other nurses role more enjoyable as they are being given the opportunity to do something different. I had Edita as my tutor and she was fantastic. She was very upbeat and passionate when we had our tutorials each week. Her passion also made me feel motivated. This course and Editas support made me believe in myself. I would highly recommend and look forward to doing further training with Glenys Bridges in the future. The best part of this course for me was gaining my Certificate of Acheivement.

Lisa Clark, Advanced Team Leading Skills for Dental Nurses -S 1

I have been a member of the Glenys Bridges team for over a two and a half years, and have been treated with respect and care ever since. Glenys is very professional, enlightening and insightful to individual student needs. My tutoring sessions with her are really amazing and transformative for me, and she helped me to progress from a Lead dental nurse to Practice Manager. I was going through a rough time and I wasn't sure I would make it, but she showed me that I am important and helped me get through the tough time. Thank you for the past few years, I’ve really enjoyed working with you, and I feel it has been a valuable experience. I have already recommended your services and will continue to do so!

Patrycja Galonzka , Level 5 Diploma for Dental CQC Registered Managers (RQF)

I've just completed my Course in High skills in Dental Care Coordination and I honestly couldn't recommend Glenys Bridges enough. Had continuous support from Edita my tutor throughout the Course to help me achieve it! The webiste is simple and easy to use to upload work. I have gained great knowledge on Care Coordination and I am very happy I did my course with Glenys Bridges! Highly Recommend

Zoe , Higher Skills in Dental Care Coordination

This course was a great course to complete alongside my working week. I was able to complete studies at my own pace and receive support from tutors whenever needed. The high point of this course was learning how to performance manage and support my staff effectively to ensure they develop fully in their career. This also means that the business get the best out of their staff. I have benefited hugely from this course as it has given me the confidence to manage my practice effectively and provided me with the knowledge to apply to my work. The tutor support with Gleny's Bridges is second to none. I was able to receive support and advice whenever needed. I would definitely recommend them as a course provider.

Amy Littler , Higher Dental Practice Management - Level 4

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