Living with COVID-19, Long COVID and the Impact on Business

Home | News | Living with COVID-19, Long COVID and the Impact on Business

Along with the much anticipated arrival of Spring, comes the Government’s equally anticipated response to Living with COVID-19.

As part of its response the Government have effected a number of changes to current arrangements which will have an impact on businesses and employees alike – including:

  • changes to SSP rules for COVID-19 related absences
  • removal of COVID-19 as a consideration for risk assessments
  • the consolidation of guidance to businesses in line with public health advice

Find out more detailed information about these changes.

Long COVID – Is it Classified as a Disability?

A challenge for employers as we move into a post pandemic working environment, is the long-term consequences of ‘long COVID’ – its medical impact and whether it is likely to be classified as a disability under Equality Act 2010.  

Rebecca Thomas, Head of Employment Policy at the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), recently suggested that organisations should presume that an individual’s long COVID symptoms meet the threshold required to be classified as a disability in order to avoid falling foul of equality law.

Managing Long COVID

In the absence of official EHRC or legislative guidance on long COVID, businesses should endeavour to manage this risk by assessing individuals on a case by case basis, against the statutory definition of disability:

  • they have a physical or mental impairment
  • the impairment has an adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities
  • the adverse effect is substantial and long term (lasting 12 months or more)

Employers should seek medical advice as to whether an employee’s condition meets the definition of a disability for equality law purposes. This advice may also be able to provide details on the individual’s prognosis and timescales for recovery, along with any reasonable adjustments which might help their return to work.

If you would like advice on how to deal with long term absences or undertaking an occupational health referral please contact Sue Meehan Boyes in our team on 07384 468 797.