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Long Covid – Part 2 – What is it and why should employers be aware of it?

Image of virus for log Covid blog

In our previous blog we covered the effects of long Covid and how although it is unlikely to be ‘deemed’ a disability in its own right, employers may need to consider that certain employees may be afforded protection by the Equality Act. This blog covers more details about the responsibilities of the employer with an employee affected by long Covid.

In the Equality Act 2010, a disability is defined as “a physical or mental impairment, [which] has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”. Therefore, there are four main points in determining disability:

  1. Is a physical or mental impairment present? 
  2. If so, does that impairment have an adverse effect on one’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities?  
  3. Is that effect substantial? (The effect will be considered substantial if it is more than minor or trivial). 
  4. Is that effect long-term? Note that for the impairment to be a disability it must either: have lasted for at least 12 months, be likely to last for over 12 months or be likely to last for the rest of the life of the affected person if life expectancy is below 12 months. 

All of these four elements can be complex and it is important that expert advice is sought where dealing with sickness absence or an employee who may be disabled. There are a variety of forms of disability discrimination that exist including direct, indirect, victimisation, harassment and discrimination arising from disability.

Finally, employers should also be mindful that they may be under a duty to make reasonable adjustments; failure to do so is another form of disability discrimination. Adjustments may include changes to the working environment, such as an adaptive desk, or the way working practices are carried out. Employers could face claims if they do not comply with their duties, in addition to significant adverse publicity. It seems clear that the effect and impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will be felt by so many people for many years to come, the debilitating condition of long Covid being just one example.

Employers and employees can obtain expert employment law advice in a timely and efficient manner from Hibberts solicitors. This blog is not a substitute for legal advice – you should always seek specialist advice about your particular situation.

Should you or your business require employment law advice, then please don’t hesitate to contact us.