New guidance published on long Covid

Acas has published advice for employers to help those with employees who are suffering from long Covid.

 

Acas has published new advice for employers on how to manage the effects of long Covid.

The Office for National Statistics has estimated that over one million people have reported experiencing long COVID, symptoms that persist weeks and months after initial Covid infection.  Research suggests older people and women are more likely to suffer.

Symptoms can include:

  • extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain or tightness
  • problems with memory and concentration (“brain fog”)
  • difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • heart palpitations
  • dizziness
  • pins and needles
  • joint pain
  • depression and anxiety
  • tinnitus, earaches
  • feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite
  • a high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, changes to sense of smell or taste
  • rashes

Once someone has been diagnosed as having long Covid, Acas says that employers and workers should discuss the impacts as early as possible and work together to find ways to help support employees who are suffering from it.

The effects of the condition are multiple and vary from person to person, but the usual rules for sickness absence and sick pay apply when someone is off work because of long Covid, says Acas.

The guidance highlights many available options for employers to help their staff return to work, including:

  • arrange and offer occupational health assessments;
  • look into reasonable adjustments, which can vary from changed hours, to adapted physical workspaces; and
  • discuss flexible working as an option as well as phased returns, which may mean coming back part-time initially to build back up to working usual hours.

Acas says employers should focus on the reasonable adjustments they can make rather than trying to work out if an employee’s condition is a disability.

Acas Chief Executive, Susan Clews, said:  “Long Covid is a relatively new illness and for some people it can be debilitating. For others, its effects are variable and a worker could be fine one day but need to be off work if their symptoms worsen.

“We have been contacted by workers suffering from its symptoms who are unsure of their rights and from employers who want advice on how to best support their staff.

“Our new advice offers practical tips for employers to manage the various effects of the condition in a sensitive way as well a range of options that can help staff get back to work safely.”

 



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