The Wall Street lender revealed a testing programme for workers in the US on Friday, and indicated in a staff memo that similar programmes may be considered for its other large offices “in the future”.

The Guardian now understands that preparations are under way to offer free mass testing for members of its 6,000-strong London workforce who choose to return to the office.

The move is likely to mean free off-site Covid-19 tests are offered to workers who have either returned or are planning to return to Goldman’s London offices at Plumtree Court in the City. These will include saliva-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, which confirm whether someone currently has Covid-19, and antibody tests, to determine if a worker previously carried the virus.

If the UK office were to follow the US programme, staff who plan to continue working from home but still want to take a private test may be reimbursed through Goldman’s health insurance programme but would have to pay upfront. Most private tests in the UK cost between £100 and £200.

Currently about 25% or 1,500 Goldman bankers are coming into its London office on any given day. A Goldman spokesperson said the bank was not setting any targets for office workers in the UK to return. The UK government has encouraged people to continue working from home where possible amid another rise in Covid-19 cases.

UK data as published 12 October, 2020, national data as published 12 October, 2020. Note: This is the latest available from PHE. UK total is not always the sum of totals for individual countries. Low daily deaths at weekends is often a result of delayed reporting. Weekly change shows new daily cases compared to 7 days ago.

Goldman bankers at the London office are already subject to temperature checks on arrival and are asked to sign in to a bespoke app to answer questions about recent travel or potential symptoms on a daily basis. However, the bank is not enforcing use of the UK government’s contact-tracing app.

In the memo announcing the US testing programme last week, Goldman said: “Testing is one part of a comprehensive prevention strategy that includes wearing masks, following general hygiene and handwashing best practices, and practising social distancing.”

Goldman’s London bankers are already eligible for office perks including free takeaway breakfast and lunch, having previously had to pay for food. Staff who were previously entitled to 20 days of free childcare at an onsite creche have been able to claim an extra 10 days as they try to juggle work and family life.