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Communication key to compulsory coronavirus tests at work

Employers and employees should cooperate when it comes to policies around coronavirus testing in the workplace (File photograph)

Co-operation between employers and staff would boost the effectiveness of workplace coronavirus test policies, lawyers have advised.

Gambrill Robinson, an associate at Canterbury Law, said if tests were mandated, managers should think about how they could reduce the burden on employees, such as offering test options near the workplace.

She added: “Employers should also do the right thing and offer paid time off for employees to take the test.

“Employees should co-operate and use their lunch hours to get tested to help minimise interruption.”

Juliana Snelling, a director at the law firm, said it was important to tell staff how tests worked and what would happen after their results were received, as well as advising them of any consequences from refusal to test.

She added that “employers in Bermuda will need to have access to the test results if testing is part of their workplace policy”.

Ms Snelling said: “It is only logical and reasonable that they should, as it will invite legal risk if an organisation simply relies on the word of its employee as to whether they tested positive or negative.

“The employer will then need policies and procedures in place regarding the treatment and storage of this information.”

Ms Snelling added: “Mandatory testing will mean that companies must be alive to potential legal liability if Covid-19 personal information is incorrectly processed, controlled, stored, or used without the employee’s permission, or used in a discriminatory manner.

“All employers will soon have to carefully consider how to process this and similar types of data when the provisions of the Personal Information Protection Act 2016 come fully into force, expected soon.”

She said: “If a company has global operations, it will have to comply with other countries’ data protection laws which may well be more onerous than Pipa, particularly with regard to the overseas transmission of sensitive information about employees.

“Consent by employees to these procedures should be recorded in the contract of employment or by way of a separate written agreement.”

* To read the Canterbury Law comments in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”.