Wondering how to deal with employees suffering with Long-COVID? Long-COVID is thought to have affected 2 million people in the UK who had symptoms lasting at least 12 weeks. Inevitably the Government is starting to face pressure to have long-COVID classed as a disability. Symptoms of long-COVID typically include extreme tiredness, brain fog and dizziness.
A recent survey by the TUC showed that just over half of people with symptoms of long-COVID have experienced some form of discrimination or disadvantage at work. The most common reaction from employers has been reported as disbelief and suspicion with 19% of respondents saying that managers questioned the impact of the condition.
The Equality Act 2010 defines “disability” as a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on a person’s ability to do normal daily activities. As such, there is a school of thought developing that there is a strong case for the emerging condition to be classed as such.
How to deal with employees suffering with Long-COVID so that you appropriately manage the return to work is key. Managing the long-term effects on workers, so that you can put appropriate measures in place to support staff is challenging because we don’t know a lot about long-COVID. It’s made more difficult because it seems to differ enormously from one person to another.
Whilst we wait for a decision on how we class long-COVID from a legal perspective, there are a number of key things that employers can do.
- Review and update your current sickness absence policy, how people report sickness and what procedures are in place to manage absences.
- Review your arrangements for phased return to work. Are they fit for purpose when considering the length of recovery from long-COVID?
- Brief managers on long-COVID, how it manifests itself, how prevalent it is as a condition and how seriously you expect them to take a diagnosis that an employee receives
- Focus on effective return to work interviews. Train managers to have meaningful, supportive conversations with employees returning after long absences. These conversations need to be carried out more than once. As people’s health improves the impact of long-COVID will likely change meaning that the arrangements in the workplace will likely need changing as well.
- Brief managers on sources of support for returning employees eg Access to Work which can provide practical help and support for employees who may need adaptations in the workplace.
Call us now on 01706 565332 or use the contact form to discuss how best to support your employees returning to work having suffered from long-COVID