Can Unvaccinated Employees Go To Work With Regular PCR Testing?

On September 13, 2021, President Biden announced a mandate requiring employers of 100 or more to ensure their employees are vaccinated. But what can an employer do if employees refuse to get vaccinated, or cannot be vaccinated due to health issues or religious beliefs? Keep reading to learn more about how regular PCR testing for unvaccinated employees can protect your staff.

How can I encourage employees to get vaccinated?

As an employer, being able to provide a safe work environment is essential to operating effectively. However, when faced with employees resistant to getting vaccinated, it can be difficult to know how to encourage vaccination without impacting employer-employee relationships.

Some actions you can take include:

Ensure employees have access to the information they need

  • Provide employees with access to CDC guidance on Covid-19 vaccines
  • Make sure senior leadership effectively and accurately communicates the importance of vaccines and how they benefit the company
  • Encourage willing employees who have been vaccinated to share their positive experiences and why they got vaccinated

Help ease the burdens of getting vaccinated

  • Give employees paid time off (PTO) to get the vaccine and recover from any side effects they may experience
  • Consider helping employees with transportation or child care concerns while getting vaccinated
  • Host a vaccination clinic onsite – as common with the flu shot – to make getting vaccinated convenient

Incentivize employees to get vaccinated

  • Link vaccinations to health accounts or your employee well-being program
  • Offer charitable contributions, cash rewards, or gift cards

Regular PCR testing for unvaccinated employees

If you have employees unwilling or unable to get vaccinated for health or religious reasons, regular PCR testing is required in lieu of a vaccine for employers of 100 or more.

Regular PCR testing for unvaccinated employees can play a significant role in preventing an outbreak in the workplace as it helps catch an active infection early, even in those who are asymptomatic.

Understanding the different Covid-19 tests

When creating your Covid-19 testing policy, it can be frustrating trying to understand the differences between the different tests available.
You may be wondering why experts recommend PCR testing over rapid antigen tests. This is because PCR tests are more sensitive than rapid antigen tests, meaning they can catch infections that a rapid antigen test could miss. Rapid antigen tests detect viral proteins, whereas PCR tests detect the RNA of the virus itself.

There are a few different types of PCR tests for Covid-19, and it’s important to understand the differences between them to ensure you are choosing the right tests for your employees.


The RT-PCR test is considered the “gold standard” in accuracy for detecting Covid-19. This test requires lab processing, returning results in 24-72 hours. They require a throat or nasal swab.

Rapid PCR

Rapid PCR tests offer accuracy similar to that of the RT-PCR, but without lab processing. Results are processed in portable lab equipment in 15-45 minutes. This test also requires a nasal or throat swab. This test is only viable for smaller companies and individuals.

Qualitative PCR

The qualitative PCR test, also known as the RT-qPCR, is not a diagnostic test; it is used to determine the viral load of someone currently infected with Covid-19. In other words, it measures the volume of Covid-19 cells in the body. This test would be prescribed by a healthcare professional for specific purposes and is not appropriate for employee testing.

Rapid Antigen

The rapid antigen test is a nasal swab diagnostic. It is the fastest test option available, with results available within 15 minutes. This test can easily be administered in bulk on an ongoing basis and is ideal for large companies.

What are my options for regular PCR testing for unvaccinated employees?

PCR tests are available either as DIY test kits or from a healthcare provider.

DIY test kits

DIY test kits contain the materials to self-collect a sample and mail it to a lab for RT-PCR processing. Once tests are received by the lab, results can be accessed 24-48 hours later.

DIY test kits do have some caveats that should be considered before utilizing them for employee testing, however. People may feel anxious about having to self-collect a sample, or worry that improper sample collection could affect results of the test. Improper storage of samples can also impact the results of a test.

From an employer’s perspective, DIY test kits may not be practical. Having to wait for results means an asymptomatic employee could have Covid-19 and be in the workplace for up to several days without knowing, exposing other employees to the virus. Additionally, using DIY test kits means navigating the complex privacy laws, disclosure requirements, and testing waivers without assistance.

Onsite tests with a mobile medical service

Mobile onsite Covid-19 testing services will work with you to find solutions to your Covid-19 safety challenges. You can arrange for regular appointments for a healthcare expert to come to your workplace and administer PCR tests to your employees.

In addition to offering guidance on testing strategy, many mobile testing services will assist you in making sure you have the paperwork required by law in order. Working with a healthcare provider to fulfill testing requirements can reassure your employees and patrons that you are taking the precautions necessary to keep the workplace safe.

Drip Hydration Can Handle Employee Testing While You Focus On Your Business

If you need regular PCR testing for unvaccinated employees, let Drip Hydration help! You can make arrangements for our healthcare experts to come to your workplace at regular intervals and administer PCR tests to employees. Depending on the type of test you choose, samples will either be securely stored and brought to a lab for processing, or our Registered Nurses will process results onsite using portable lab equipment. In the event someone tests positive, our team can offer advice on how to keep your employees safe and prevent an outbreak.

We offer progressive group discounts, as well as incentives for ongoing appointments with businesses. We can also offer guidance regarding the required paperwork surrounding testing, such as waivers, disclosures, and ensuring you are in compliance with workers’ rights and privacy laws.

Our experts are ready to answer your questions and help tackle your Covid-safety challenges so you can stay focused on your business. Call us or click the button below for more information today!