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Legal insights & industry updates

| 1 minute read

Long-Covid: can it be a disability?

The Office for National Statistics released figures last week which show that an estimated 2.3 million people in private households in the UK are living with long-Covid. The symptoms of long-Covid can include extreme fatigue, muscle aches, shortness of breath, loss of smell, problems with memory and concentration, difficulty sleeping and depression & anxiety. 

It is possible that those people living with long-Covid will meet the definition of "disabled" under the Equality Act 2010 if it has a long-term, substantial adverse effect on the person's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. The effect will be long-term if it has lasted or is likely to last for at least 12 months. This could give rise to a duty on the employer to make reasonable adjustments. An employee suffering from long-Covid might make a flexible working request to help them manage the symptoms and an employer should bear in mind that it may amount to a reasonable adjustment to agree to that request.

It is clear when reading the potential symptoms of long-Covid that it could impact an employee at work, including their performance and/or rate of sickness absence. When managing performance or sickness absence of an employee who has long-Covid, an employer should take this into account and it will likely be prudent to get medical input, such as from occupational health. 

If you require advice on managing an employee who has long-Covid, please get in touch and we would be happy to assist. 

More than 1 million people in the UK have long-Covid at least one year after they were first infected, new figures reveal.


employment law