Coronavirus: Workers must have access to testing, says trade union boss

Workers should have access to testing, says TUC. Photo: Getty

Workers must have access to testing for coronavirus, including paid time off, unions have urged.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) said there should be easily accessible testing sites as part of measures to ease the economic lockdown.

Priority should be given to those in at-risk and shielding groups, or who care for individuals in those groups, said the union organisation.

The TUC said it recognised the public health case for testing and tracing, but added that “significant questions” remained about the proposed roll-out, both in terms of equality of access and workers’ privacy.

The federation said it believed that, without high levels of trust in the testing and tracing process, people may choose not to participate, which would undermine the effectiveness of the approach.

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TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We want effective testing and tracing to be put in place as soon as possible, but to gain public trust it must be based on equal access and safeguard workers’ data.

“The Government needs to do more to ensure that everyone can access testing and self-isolate if necessary. That means accessible testing sites, paid time off for testing, and decent sick pay for anyone advised to stay at home.

“To build confidence in the process, employers must work with unions to guarantee that data will be protected, and not used to monitor or discipline workers.”

He added: “Unions support a safe reopening of the economy, but the Government must prioritise workers’ safety and win their trust.”