Food sector workers: free COVID-19 testing

Lee Thomas

The NFU has been pushing hard for rapid workplace testing for farmers and workers in agriculture to help guarantee the nation’s food supplies

The government has announced that all businesses, including those with fewer than 50 employees, can register for government-funded lateral flow tests for asymptomatic workers who cannot work from home.

The free lateral flow kits will be available until 30 June 2021, but businesses must register by 23.59 on 31 March 2021, as highlighted in this open letter from Defra Secretary George Eustice.

The government is inviting employers with workers who cannot work from home to establish asymptomatic testing sites (ATS) in the workplace, which will allow both employees and contractors to access lateral flow devices (LFD) and receive rapid COVID-19 test results.

The government will provide support to do this through:

• A limited period of free LFDs shipped to one location
• A clinically approved protocol (standard operating procedures)
• A guidebook to explain how to set up and run a safe and effective testing site
• On-demand training for the operatives that will process tests and run the site
• A GDPR-compliant digital solution to report results to Public Health England.

An overview of the process is available in Introduction to LFD Testing in Workplaces.

NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts said:

“We strongly welcome the move to get to rapid asymptomatic workplace testing in place for those still working incredibly hard to produce the nation’s food.
“It has always been important during times of crisis to keep workers safe and our shops and fridges full, so it’s great that Defra and DHSC have secured this testing for all food businesses, regardless of the number of employees.
“We will continue to work closely with government on reducing the need for those workers testing negative to self-isolate.”

How to register

Businesses operating as a company with a Companies House registration number can register online at the website for workplace COVID-19 tests.

Businesses operating as a partnership should register interest by sending an email to with the following information:

  • Organisation name
  • Limited partnership number (if available)
  • How many employees
  • Email address
  • Industry or sector

Further advice for businesses with fewer than 50 employees

Establishing an ATS site may not be feasible or viable for smaller businesses or premises with fewer than 50 employees. For smaller businesses, sole traders and the self-employed access to testing is also available through local authorities who are establishing testing sites for those without symptoms within their local areas. Visit your local authority’s website to find out more about their testing services. 

More coronavirus advice from NFU experts:

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  • Posted by: Lisa GudgePosted on: 22/02/2021 15:00:03

    Comment: Test