Long Covid sufferers being ‘forced out of jobs’, says union
More than two-thirds of workers suffering with long Covid are being treated unfairly by their employers, a new report has claimed.
A report, from the TUC and the charity Long Covid Support, found that one in seven respondents - many key workers - believe they lost their jobs as a result of their condition.
Ministers are being asked to consider adjustments for the 2million people with long Covid, according to the latest ONS survey, including flexible working, disability leave and a phased return to the workplace.
Half of the long Covid sufferers who responded to the survey said they believed they had originally contracted Covid-19 in the workplace with one in eight keeping the condition secret from their employer for fear their boss would not do anything or of being seen in a negative light.
Almost a quarter of the 3,000 respondents claimed their employer has questioned whether they have long Covid or the impact of their symptoms.
Paul Nowak, the TUC general secretary, said: “Workers with long Covid have been badly let down. Many of these are the key workers who carried us through the pandemic – yet now some are being forced out of their jobs.
“Ministers must make sure all workers with long Covid have the legal right to reasonable adjustments at work so they can stay in their jobs.”
Lesley Macniven, a founding member of Long Covid Support, added: “Long Covid is devastating the health of a significant percentage of our workforce and urgently requires a more strategic response.
“How much individual pain, misery and financial loss could have been saved if targeted intervention had been taken to prevent these hundreds of thousands of job losses?
“Those still fighting to stay in work face discrimination and a lack of understanding. Without action around retention of these workers, not least in sectors facing skills shortages, the numbers, and costs, will continue to rise as they too reluctantly exit the workforce.”
A government spokesperson told The Guardian: “The Equality Act clearly defines disability as a long term or substantial physical or mental impairment which has a negative effect on an individual’s ability to carry out normal daily activities.
“This would capture long Covid, on a case-by-case basis, if an individual is impacted in this way. There is therefore no plan to update the act to list every illness or disability that may be covered.”
Long Covid is a colloquial term being used to describe people who experience symptoms for longer than two weeks, which according to the World Health Organisation is how long coronavirus typically lasts.
However, while some people have a mild form of illness, others have been seriously affected.
Researchers looked at information on a number of symptoms linked to long Covid including loss of taste and smell, breathing problems, concentration and memory issues – also known as brain fog; weakness, palpitations and dizziness, among others.
They found that symptoms of long Covid “remained for several months” but mostly resolved within a year.
Another booster campaign will begin on April 17 and will see everyone aged 75 and over, those in care homes and vulnerable people offered a fresh dose of Covid-19 vaccine.