Long COVID – advice for employers and employees

Whether long COVID is treated as a disability

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

'Long term' means either:

  • it will affect them or is likely to affect them for at least a year
  • it's likely to last for the rest of their life

'Substantial adverse effect' means more than just a minor impact on someone's life or how they can do certain things. This may fluctuate or change and may not happen all the time.

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, even years. The effects of long COVID could also cause other impairments.

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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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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Please do not include any personal information, for example email address or phone number. Unfortunately we cannot respond to individual requests for information. If you need help, contact our helpline on 0300 123 1100