Some had been asking for it for months. But the health protocol for companies was categorical: until then, it is not possible to organize employee Covid-19 screening campaigns.
Government change with the new version posted online Thursday, October 29. “Beyond the screening campaigns organized by the health authorities and to which companies can participate, employers can, in compliance with regulatory conditions, offer screening actions to those of their employees who are voluntary ”, exposes the text.
Non-compulsory and free “antigen” test for employees
Screening is facilitated by the rapid tests that several recent decrees authorize to detect the coronavirus, on an individual scale or on a massive scale; tests covered by Medicare if they are carried out in a pharmacy, at the doctor or nurse. For the moment these “antigenic” tests, which do not need to be analyzed in the laboratory, are taken from the nose. At the end of the year, less intrusive saliva tests should hit the market.
The national protocol specifies that if it is on its initiative, screening should be “Fully funded by the employer”. No question of asking the employee for a share or reimbursement by Medicare. The company must also ensure the ” well executed “ of test which cannot be compulsory and respect medical confidentiality. “In particular, no result can be communicated to the employer or his employees”, is it specified. Serological tests are not allowed. They do not make it possible to detect an infected person, but only to know if they have been infected at some point in the year.
Before the reconfinement, the president of Medef, Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux, hoped that by liberalizing the use of antigenic tests, companies could remain open, especially in events or culture, by filtering the entries of spectators. His hope was dashed. However, the sectors that will remain open will now have the means to ensure the safety of their employees, says Vincent Dailloux, co-founder of Medisur, a French company that is ready to organize rapid test campaigns on behalf of companies: “On construction sites, it’s complicated to maintain 100% physical distancing. These tests will be a call for air for our customers, who were waiting for the “go” before launching “, he testifies.
Another type of business that could jump at the opportunity, mass distribution: “This could reassure employees in contact with customers and make it possible to verify that there is no chain of contamination”, he pleads. How many tests could companies perform this way? “This market can easily go up to 500,000 tests per week”, extrapolates Vincent Dailloux, considering that the city health professions could reach 1.5 million weekly screenings.
Be careful! Better to involve staff representatives
For him, the ideal would be to screen the staff once a week, knowing that the reliability of the tests remains “Important” up to five days after contamination and they should always be performed by a healthcare professional, under the responsibility of a doctor, in order to guarantee ” well executed “.
However, companies will have to surround themselves with precautions if they want to get started. The limited value of the health protocol for companies, which is not even a regulatory text, impose the “Caution”, warns Virgile Pradel, a lawyer specializing in occupational health issues “There is a significant legal risk for the employer”, he warns, pointing in particular to the issues related to the GDPR. “It is absolutely necessary to associate the initiative with occupational medicine – we do not move until it has validated the action – as well as the staff representatives within the framework of the Social and Economic Council”, he insists.