Priority matrix for key worker testing

On this page, you'll find guidance on who can access the expanded UK Government Testing Programme in Scotland and how they can do so. The UK Government has established a new network of COVID-19 testing facilities for key workers. Testing will allow symptomatic key workers and their household members to know whether or not they have the virus. Access to testing in Scotland is determined via a prioritisation matrix for key workers that includes a broad range of private sector workers and essential services. 

Who can be tested?

All symptomatic people categorised as key workers and members of their household can be tested.

The list of workers able to access testing includes: –

  • Staff delivering NHS services, providing social care to protect and care for the most vulnerable, all NHS staff and independent contractors working for the NHS, including community pharmacy and emergency dental care, and all social care staff who work with vulnerable people and the social care system, including care homes, care at home and children’s services.
  • Staff with face-to-face roles in residential institutions with people in the care of the state, those who are working essential services with niche roles, where service resilience is at risk, including operational staff in prisons, staff working with looked after children, those working on critical national infrastructure (e.g. energy supply) with niche skills essential to maintain services safely and defense staff living in Scotland who fall within the MOD’s very highest priority category for testing.
  • Essential workers in critical national infrastructure fundamental for safety and security, and life-line services. This includes defense personnel, environmental protection, animal health and welfare, funeral industry and staff working for third sector organisations supporting people and children who are vulnerable, including grant aided schools, food supply chain and food processing workers, and workers on medicines and pharmaceutical supply, chemicals supply, energy and water supply.
  • Staff directly involved in delivering other essential services. This includes staff providing childcare for key workers, public transport workers, postal services, financial services, supermarket workers, construction and essential public services, court and Crown Office staff
  • Staff involved in volunteering, or in nationally or locally significant industry important to economic sustainability and growth.


When to get tested

The test is only guaranteed to be accurate if someone is symptomatic. Key workers should get tested in the first three days of coronavirus symptoms appearing, although testing is considered effective up until day five.

If a key worker is self-isolating because another member of their household has symptoms, the household member can also be referred for testing. By testing the household member(s), there will be more certainty if the key worker should either be self-isolating or can return to work.

Negative tests and returning to work

Even if a key worker has had a negative result, it is important to apply caution. If everyone with symptoms who was tested in their household also receives a negative result, the employee can return to work, if their work cannot be done from home, providing they are well enough, and have not had a fever for 48 hours.

If, after returning to work, they develop symptoms they should follow the NHS Inform guidance and self-isolate.
Employers should discuss return to work planning with their employees.

Test results and staying safe

Results will be communicated to individuals directly by text message. The test will confirm if a person – who is showing symptoms of the virus – has it. It will not confirm whether they have had it and have recovered.

Test Sites

Testing in Scotland is currently conducted at drive-through sites operating at:

  • Glasgow Airport
  • Edinburgh Airport
  • Aberdeen Airport
  • University of the Highlands and Islands campus in Inverness


Employer portal

Employers can register and refer employees for appointments. A new website has been established to process the booking of tests.

Obtain a login for the employer referral portal

To get a login, employers should email [email protected]

Employers should supply two email addresses that will primarily be used to load key worker contact details.

Once the employer details have been verified, two login credentials will be issued for the employer referral portal.

Employers should then login at to make referrals.

Self-referral portal

Key workers are also able to book a test directly for themselves or members of their household. Individual key workers should go to the self-referral portal at: to sign up if they are, or a member of their family is, symptomatic.

Individuals will receive a text or email the same day inviting them to either book an appointment or offering a home self-testing kit.

Those using self-referral can indicate their preference prior to registering details.

The target for sending results is by text within 48 hours. A call centre is available by phone, to help people with the process and deal with test result queries.

Home tests

Key workers who have completed a self-referral may have the option, depending on available capacity, to book a home-test kit. Home test kits are an option where key workers are unable to attend a drive-through centre. The home test option is covered in the booking process.

How home testing works

The test will normally be delivered to the key worker the next day. The key worker will self-administer the swab and pack it up as instructed. Each kit comes with comprehensive instructions and a short video to guide the key worker through how to administer the swab themselves.

A Royal Mail courier will arrive the day after to collect the completed test and take it to the lab. The aim is that results will be issued via text within 48 hours.

Any questions?

Any questions from employers or key workers about accessing testing, the website, or results should be emailed to [email protected]

Related information

Coronavirus (COVID-19): access to testing