A rapid antigen test is a fast and simple test that can indicate if someone is likely to have COVID-19.

Some tests can be done at home or in private by yourself and others need to be overseen by a health professional, so it's important to understand which test is best for your business.

If you or one of your employees test positive from a rapid antigen test, then you must isolate, get tested with a standard (PCR) test, and stay isolated until you get your results.

Business benefits of rapid antigen testing


  • Easy and safe to use.
  • Relatively low cost.
  • Return results within minutes.
  • Frequent rapid antigen testing (2-3 times a week) can identify COVID-19 infections in people who do not have symptoms which can stop transmission and prevent large outbreaks.
  • Minimise the amount of time you or your employees need to be away from your business to get precautionary standard (PCR) testing.
  • May boost employee confidence in returning to in-person work.

Accuracy of rapid antigen testing


Rapid antigen tests will detect most cases of COVID-19 but are not as accurate as the standard (PCR) test. 

Rapid antigen tests are most reliable when used by someone who has symptoms - external site - external site - external site of COVID-19 or when used frequently, for example 2-3 times a week.

If you develop symptoms or are identified as a close or casual contact of someone who has COVID-19, you must get tested at a clinic and self-isolate.

Types of COVID-19 rapid antigen tests


The two key types of rapid antigen tests are:

  • point-of-care (PoC) tests 
  • self-tests.

The differences between these PoC tests and self-tests

PoC tests Self-tests
Costs for businesses

Approximately $7-15 each, but must be performed under the supervision of a health practitioner, which may have more costs.

Range from $12-20 each. 

How the tests are verified You must have a health practitioner to supervise PoC rapid antigen tests. They are responsible for overseeing the steps for interpreting and recording test results and notifying people of positive test results. Self-tests can be used unsupervised at home without the involvement of a health practitioner. The person performing the test interprets the results by themselves.

Many sponsors and manufacturers of rapid antigen tests also supply software for use with the tests for users to record their results. There are also firms that can assist businesses in diagnosis, legal requirements and data handling of self-testing systems.  
Time to get a result  15-30 minutes  10-15 minutes

Learn more about the self-tests that are approved in Australia.

Learn more about COVID-19 point-of-care testing.

Rapid antigen testing and your business


Many businesses have implemented rapid antigen testing programs into their business operations where employees take COVID-19 self-tests at home and present evidence of a negative test result before entering the workplace.

If you would like to implement a rapid antigen testing program into your operations, it's important to understand your legal responsibilities. Before you begin, you should consider:

  • How you will verify the rapid antigen test results.
  • What type of test suits your business.
  • Where you will purchase your rapid antigen tests.
  • How you will document, report and store the testing results.
  • How you will dispose of completed tests. Check the waste management rules in your state or territory for your obligations and local services.

We recommend that you speak to a legal or business professional for advice to help you decide if it's the best thing for your business.

Where to buy rapid antigen tests

Scams

It' s important to be aware of scams and misleading conduct in order to protect yourself when purchasing rapid antigen tests. Here are some tips to help keep you safe from testing scams:

  • Make sure that you are purchasing rapid antigen tests from a trusted and legitimate business that can validate the standard of the tests.
  • When purchasing from an online store, look for a URL that starts with “https” and a closed padlock symbol to show that information transmitted on that site is secure. 
  • Avoid paying up-front, via money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, pre-loaded card, or electronic currency like Bitcoin.
  • Carefully check the messaging from your regular suppliers, as scammers may pretend to be a business you usually deal with. Verify any requests to change any payment arrangements by calling them on a known and trusted number. 
  • Get quotes from more than one supplier to help you work out the best price.
  • Keep records of rapid antigen test delivery, specifications and user instructions. 

Your privacy obligations for rapid antigen testing

The Australian privacy legislation has specific clauses relating to medical and health information. If you're considering PoC testing, it is important you know your legal requirements relating to data collection and relevant use of private health data.

Rapid antigen testing as a part of your COVID-19 emergency management

Rapid antigen tests are one way of monitoring and protecting your business against COVID-19, but it should not replace other measures such as hand sanitisers, masks and social distancing.

If you plan on introducing a rapid antigen testing program into your business, you should consider how it will fit with your overall COVID-19 emergency management plan.

Use our downloadable emergency management plan template to help you work it out.

Find out how to protect your customer's safety.

Learn how to help keep your workers safe and limit the spread of COVID-19.

If your business sells rapid antigen test kits


If you are selling rapid antigen COVID-19 test kits, you need to include GST in the price of these kits. This is because rapid antigen COVID-19 test kits are not a ‘medical aid or appliance’ that is listed in either Schedule 3 to the GST Act or the GST Regulations, so they’re not GST-free.

Learn more about the supply of medical aids and appliances used for treating COVID-19.

Read next

Understand your workplace rights and obligations for COVID-19 vaccinations.

Find the latest COVID-19 information and support for your business.