Long Covid and the workplace
Covid-19 has exposed huge inequalities in the world of work. However, if we do not take steps now to ensure that people with Long Covid are properly protected, we run the very real risk of new, long lasting inequalities being created.
- ensure that disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on different groups of workers - including those with long Covid symptoms - is included within an independent public inquiry
- strengthen the Equality Act 2010 by specifying that long Covid is a disability
- adopt the social model of disability
- provide access to Disablement Benefit
- increase and expand statutory sick pay
- overhaul Universal Credit so it is fit for purpose
- strengthen flexible working rights
- invest in regulators
- provide universal access to occupational health
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) should:
- produce guidance for employers
- make targeted use of its enforcement powers
- review existing policies
- consult with trade unions and staff that have long Covid on steps to promote equality and eliminate discrimination
- put in place reasonable adjustments for workers who have long Covid
- record long Covid related leave separately from sick leave
- review existing flexible work policies
- ensure workers with long Covid have return-to-work risk assessments
Trade unions should:
- work with employers to review their policies and practices to ensure any barriers workers with long Covid face at work are identified and removed.
- negotiate with employers for long Covid to be automatically treated as a disability so that employers put in place reasonable adjustments to remove workplace barriers and record absence linked to long Covid separately from other sick leave.
- use the findings in this TUC report to campaign to increase their reps’ and members’ understanding of long Covid so workers are better able to seek help if they need it.
Long Covid symptoms adversely affected the day-to-day activities of 1.2 million people, with 346,000 reporting that their ability to undertake their day-to-day activities had been "limited a lot".
Trade unions have worked throughout the pandemic to keep workplaces safe and protect workers. But too many workers have been and continue to be failed by their employers.
The government, employers, EHRC and trade unions must continue to take Covid-19 seriously and provide support to those living with Long Covid.