Long COVID – advice for employers and employees

Whether long COVID is treated as a disability

Under the law, a disability is a physical or mental impairment that has a 'substantial and long-term' negative effect on a person's ability to do normal day-to-day activities.

'Long term' means the impairment:

  • has lasted or will last for at least 12 months
  • can come and go or is likely to last for the rest of the person's life

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.

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Avoiding discrimination

As well as disability, employers must to 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
  • women

Employers must avoid discriminating by age, disability, race or sex.

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