Chair of the employee-owned Stockport schoolwear manufacturer, Rowlinson Knitwear, Donald Moore, discusses how businesses can handle Covid-19 in the workplace, in particular, the role of lateral flow testing.
We were lucky to have the chance to establish lateral flow testing in our workplace and are very grateful to the superb Stockport Council for providing this for us, in fact we are the first manufacturing organisation to do this in Stockport with the help of the council.
I’ve been thinking about what a great thing it is to help protect our colleagues and their families when we have all seen the tragedy and trauma that the pandemic has caused. It shows that the council really care about the organisations in their community and those employed there.
For those not familiar with workplace testing this is what we did for a workforce of around 50 people although some are full or part furloughed (and on 90% of their usual pay). We trained 4 people in order to carry out up to 35 tests and we will be testing our workforce twice a week. Most of the training is undertaken via an e-learning package with an additional offer of face to face training should you want to access this where your team can run through the testing process from registration to taking a swab and processing the test with a facilitator on hand. The council provide all the training, the materials and full PPE and a named Sector Support Officer to guide and support throughout. For us we had to create a dedicated safe area to carry out the tests and we pay for waste removals as well as the time for training and to do the tests. The test result is confirmed within 30 mins and sent electronically to track and trace. It is important though that anyone who has symptoms should not come into work and arrange a test at gov.uk or call 119.
I also think though about the horror stories I have heard about and the ways that bad employers are treating their staff. Workers denied to take time off work with bosses saying they are short staffed. Far too many businesses not paying employees to self isolate. Employees having to take much needed holiday days to attend Covid testing or to self isolate for up to 2 weeks. There is such a huge contrast between good and bad employers and those unscrupulous employers have probably contributed to the rising positive cases.
Simply, if you are a good employer and you have the resources then you should encourage everyone to take a test and self isolate on full pay. You should look to establish lateral flow testing, mobile or on site. You should put the safety and health of all your colleagues first even if that reduces profits. That’s what been a good employer is all about and your employees will ultimately improve your business with better customer and employee retention, higher productivity and more profits.
Finally thank you to Stockport Council and all those heroes who are helping us navigate the pandemic. My heart goes out to anyone working for a bad employer, I can’t imagine what it must be like and for those having to work for bosses who see the pandemic as an opportunity to fire people and squeeze pay.
Workplace based lateral flow testing for asymptomatic Covid-19, which offers a result in 30 minutes, is available from Stockport Council for workers who cannot do their jobs from home. Contact the Council’s testing team for more information.