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Long covid – employment law implications

Long covid is now classed as a disability according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).  As such, in the absence of clear legislation, employers should treat employees with long covid as having a disability.  However, long covid will not necessarily trigger protection under the Equality Act 2010 simply because there is not enough data as yet to prove whether long covid is a long-term impairment.  Our view is that we think it’s just a question of time before we start seeing Tribunal claims come through, which find that a specified claimant with long covid was disabled under the Act at the material time that their claim relates to.  Although some employees might believe that a fit note from the GP is enough to prove they have long covid, the EHRC has recommended that employers seek further advice from occupational health and/or write to the employee’s GP to request further information about their condition.  In view of this, employees who want to benefit from the employer’s duty to make all reasonable adjustments, for example, should proactively obtain reports from their GPs containing useful additional information and provide those to their employers without waiting to be asked.

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