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Protect workers by treating long Covid as a disability, says TUC

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21/06/2021
Long Covid should be “urgently recognised” as a disability to give workers access to legal protection and compensation, the TUC has said.

Research by the union found just over half of people who suffer long Covid symptoms experienced some form of workplace discrimination or disadvantage due to their condition.

Side effects of long Covid include brain fog, shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating and memory problems.

The TUC report suggests frontline workers have been disproportionately affected by long Covid.

Over three-quarters of those surveyed identified themselves as key workers, with the majority working in either education or health and social care.

The research found workers faced disbelief and suspicion when disclosing their condition.

Around a fifth (19 per cent) of people said their employer had questioned the impact of their symptoms, while one in 20 (5 per cent) said they had been forced out of their jobs altogether because they had long Covid.

The TUC is calling for the government to urgently recognise long Covid as a disability under the Equality Act, which would ensure employers cannot legally discriminate against them. It would also put a duty on employers to make reasonable adjustments that remove, reduce or prevent any disadvantages workers with long Covid face.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said: “Many of the workers who have carried us through the pandemic are now living with debilitating symptoms of long Covid. And we’re beginning to hear troubling stories of a massive wave of discrimination against people with long Covid.

“It’s time to recognise this condition properly – and make sure workers who are living with long Covid get the support they need to do their jobs.”

Lesley Macniven, chair of the Long Covid Support Group, said: “Long Covid is disabling young, previously healthy workers. This key step is needed to take the effects of long Covid seriously, enable rehabilitation and protect dedicated workers from discrimination due to poor understanding of the condition.”

 

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