CWU monitoring rollout of Covid 19 National Testing Programme in BT

Telecoms & Financial Services, BT

Close tabs are being kept on the rollout of a new Government initiative under which ‘key workers’ across BT Group who are off work with potential coronavirus symptoms or living with someone who is symptomatic will be prioritised for a new test to confirm whether or not they have Covid 19.

The purpose of the test is to establish with far greater certainty than has hitherto been the case whether the individuals in question actually have coronavirus, and therefore whether they need to self-isolate or whether they can safely return to work.

Informing the union about  the development – which has subsequently been briefed to staff – the company pointed out that currently around BT Group employees are off with cold/flu symptoms, and a further 2,000 are self-isolating.

The company has stressed , however, that only a proportion these employees can be classified as ‘key workers’- and that only those individuals can be tested, in line with the Government guidelines.

The process the company began to roll out yesterday (Monday) entails:

  • The emailing of key workers (and their manager) who are off sick with cold/flu symptoms or self-isolating due to being (or living with someone) Covid 19 symptomatic.
  • Those individuals being asked to complete an electronic form/ formwize, providing  their NI number and email address which will then be shared securely with the Government-sponsored National Testing Team at 2pm each day.
  • The individuals receiving an email the following morning instructing them to register for the test for themselves and up to five others in their household.
  • Amazon will deliver the mouth swab test kit and Royal Mail will manage the collection.
  • The test results being delivered to the individual within 48-72 hours via text.
  • The individual then sharing the results with their line manager as evidence to support continued self-isolation, or to discuss their return to work (when well enough to do so) – in line with BT Group’s existing approach to managing self-isolation.

CWU national officer with responsibility for pan-BT Group personnel issues, Dave Jukes, explains: “Given this initiative, and the process that will be followed, stem entirely from a Government request to BT, the CWU has not been involved in the formulation of this policy –  and, while we’ve been fully  informed of the intended rollout, we’ve not been ‘consulted’ in the traditional sense.

“The union will, however, will be keeping close tabs on how this testing is carried out in practice – in line with our duty to ensure that members are treated fairly and equitably, and that their interests are not compromised.

“Given the severity of the current public health emergency the drive for extensive testing is both understandable and necessary – and the CWU obviously supports anything that can contribute to greater understanding of this terrible virus and limit its spread – thereby saving lives.

“Some practical questions remain unanswered, however, including what happens in households where extended family units or house sharing mean that the key worker being tested lives with more than the maximum of five other people for whom tests will be provided.”

Any members with concerns should contact their Branch in the first instance. (If you don’t know which Branch you are in you can find out via Alternatively email  – providing  your full name, the BT division you work for and your workplace details.