It is important to remember that, since Covid-19 is a new illness and the effects of long covid remain unclear to medical professionals, it is difficult to say whether or not this is a disability. It is not possible to predict how long the illness is likely to last or the recovery path for individuals as they all differ. There is also no current case law in relation to employment matters concerning long covid, nor does legislation cover it in any detail.
If you are suffering from long covid, and you are having to take time off or you find that your work may be suffering, we recommend that you:
- First speak to your GP as well as your line manager.
- If you know what support you may need, say so at this time. Make sure that you understand the sickness absence policy.
- Ask for an occupational health assessment. Bring along a pre-prepared list of issues that you are facing relating to covid/long covid.
- Be very clear with you line manager about what your concerns are and what your needs are.
- If the above actions do not resolve matters, phone the Advice & Representation service at BASW if you have any questions or concerns about how your employer is handling your illness.
Please seek advice before doing the following:
- Agreeing to any permanent changes in your contract.
- Signing any medical redeployment papers.
- Attending any meetings where you feel you are being put under pressure.
This is what ACAS says about Long Covid*:
Long COVID is still a new illness and it may take time to understand it fully. It can affect a person's day-to-day activities and it's currently understood that it can last or come and go for several months. The effects of long COVID could also cause other impairments.
It's a good idea for the employer to focus on the reasonable adjustments they can make rather than trying to work out if an employee's condition is a disability.
As well as disability, employers must be careful to avoid other types of discrimination when considering long COVID.
Long COVID has been found to more severely affect:
- older people
- ethnic minorities
*To find out more about ACAS guidance around long covid, go to: https://www.acas.org.uk/long-covid