Two in three people with Long Covid say they are treated unfairly at work 

  • 27 Mar 2023

The majority of respondents said they had experienced unfair treatment at work because of Long Covid – and one in seven lost their jobs because of the condition.

The TUC and Long Covid Support Employment Group report revealed that many people with Long Covid said the condition has had an impact on how they are treated at work: 

  • Almost a quarter (23%) of respondents say their employer has questioned whether they have Long Covid or the impact of their symptoms 
  • One in seven (14%) say they lost their job because of reasons connected to Long Covid – nearly triple the percentage (5%) of people who said that in 2021. 
  • Nearly three in 10 (28%) say they are concerned Long Covid has affected their chances of a promotion at work. 
  • And around one in six (16%) report experiencing bullying and harassment at work. 

Accessing support at work 
The report reveals the difficulties working people with Long Covid are facing accessing the support they need to be able to return to work and carry on working if they wish to: 

  • Almost half (48%) say they were not given any or all of the reasonable adjustments – like flexibility to manage fluctuating symptoms or longer or more frequent breaks – that they needed to come back to work. 
  • And one in two (50%) report not being given any or all of the reasonable adjustments required – like permanent home working or physical changes to the workplace – to manage their job. 

Different types of flexible working are essential to people with Long Covid to be able to stay in work, says the union body, but the TUC and Long Covid Support Employment Group report shows they are often the hardest adjustment to get from employers.  
Around half (49%) of the respondents to the TUC and Long Covid Support Employment Group survey say they believed they contracted Covid-19 at work. But one in eight (12%) say they haven’t told their employer that they have Long Covid – for fear their boss won’t do anything or of being seen in a negative light.  

Financial impact of Long Covid 
The TUC and Long Covid Support Employment Group report also exposes the financial impact on workers experiencing Long Covid: 

  • One in two (50%) of those who responded to the survey say they are having to use their savings to support themselves. 
  • Around one in 16 (6%) report taking out a private loan or using a debt service. 
  • And one in 16 (6%) say they are using food banks. 

Government action needed 
The TUC and Long Covid Support Employment Group are calling for the government to urgently introduce a range of measures including: 

  • Ensuring everyone with Long Covid is recognised as disabled under the Equality Act. Many people with Long Covid will already get the protections under the Act but extending Equality Act 2010 protections would ensure everyone is protected by law and entitled to reasonable adjustments that remove, reduce or prevent any disadvantages workers with Long Covid face. This would be decisive action from government to protect those facing the long-term health consequences of the pandemic. 
  • Recognising Covid-19 as an occupational disease. This would entitle employees and their dependents to protection and compensation if they contracted the virus while working. 
  • Greater flexibility in all jobs. There should be a duty on employers to list the possible flexible working options for each job when it is advertised. And all workers should have a day one right to work flexibly – not just the right to ask – unless the employer can properly justify why this is not possible. Workers should have the right to appeal any rejections. And there shouldn’t be a limit on how many times a worker can ask for flexible working arrangements in a single year. 
  • Guidance for employers. The Equality and Human Rights Commission should urgently produce detailed guidance for employers on Long Covid and the types of reasonable adjustments people may need. 

TUC report 

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