A Covid test at work, needs the employee to cooperate ?
We often hear Minister Mr. De Jonge, who deals with the Corona file, say: by testing the Corona virus can be detected in an early stage and prevents outbreak situations of the Corona virus.
Testing for Corona has also become a topic of discussion in the working relationship between employer and employee and sometimes leads to legal disputes. The government wants to stimulate the possibilities for Corona testing. Minister De Jonge has therefore recently set up a (temporary) financial scheme for employers to allow employees who yet have no Corona-related complaints to have preventive testing on the Corona virus. For employees with Corona-related complaints, the official test via the GGD still applies.
Now that it is becoming easier for employers to have employees tested for Corona, especially now that quick tests and self-tests are available, the question arises whether the employee is obliged to participate in these types of preventive tests which are organized by the employer.
Safe working environment
The employer has the duty to organize the working environment for employees in a safe and healthy way, and the employer must also protect the business interests. The employer also has a right of instruction. And if preventive tests can prevent the increase in absenteeism and reduces the change that employees infecting each other, the employer will benefit.
Incidentally, the financial scheme is only aimed at employers who do not have the option of allowing employees to continue working at home and where 1.5 meter distance is difficult to maintain in work situations, such as in retail trade, café and restaurant industry, healthcare and schools.
Financial compensation for testing employees without Corona complaints
The scheme offers the option of having tests taken by a BIG-registered doctor (company doctor) or
a health and safety service affiliated with a test provider. The government provides a temporary allowance of € 20 per test taken that is paid to the Health and Safety Service or BIG registered doctor. The scheme is open until May 31, 2021 and can be extended by one month. After May it is expected that more self-tests will become available around the summer of 2021, which will largely serve the perspective of working more safely.
The result of the test may only be shared with the employee. Incidentally, if the result is positive, the company doctor will inform the employer that the employee is incapacitated for work.
Employers who want to have employees tested preventively without Corona- related complaints cannot make this mandatory. The cooperation is only voluntary and the employer may not impose any sanctions to enforce cooperation. The employee has the right to physical integrity. If the employee agrees to a test, the employer may not record or process the medical data for privacy reasons. In case the employee is already ill the employer may request the employee to have a Corona test before the employee returns to work again. The employee who refuses to cooperate then runs a risk. If an employee does not cooperate with reintegration during incapacity for work, this can have a consequence for the payment of wages .
Offering tests at work needs a consent of the Works Council or the relevant employee representation and will strengthen the employer’s legal position. Would you like to know more about the testing of employees or the financial contribution from the government? Please, contact us.