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  • 7 Dec 2022

    Can long covid be a disability and what does it mean for employers?

    Recent government statistics state that an estimated 2.2 million people in the UK are suffering with the effects of long covid. But what does this mean in terms of employment?

    What is long covid?

    Most people who get Coronavirus feel better within a few weeks, but some people have experienced symptoms for much longer. This is called long covid. Symptoms of long covid include a cough, breathlessness, fever, palpitations, fatigue, and muscle aches.

    Can long covid be considered a disability?

    The law defines a disability as “a physical or mental impairment that has long-term and substantial adverse effect on a person’s ability to do normal day-to-day activities”. 

    Long-term means that either the individual’s impairment will or is likely to affect them for at least a year, or that it’s likely to last them their whole life. 

    Substantial adverse effect means that it has more than just a minor impact on the way that they do certain things or how they live their life. 

    Without a tribunal to determine whether or not long covid can be included in the above definitions, it’s a grey area for employers, employees, medical specialists and the courts.

    What should employers do about long covid?

    Due to the remaining uncertainty about the illness and the undefined barriers on how long covid impacts employment, it is suggested by ACAS that “employers should focus on the reasonable adjustments they can make rather than trying to work out if an employee's condition is a disability”.

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