Research perspectives

“Long Covid” is a disability and causes discrimination, TUC report claims

report from the TUC has found that a majority of people  (52%) who had  self-reported as having “Long Covid” – the condition where those who have contracted Covid-19 still experience a wide range of symptoms months later –had experienced some form of discrimination or disadvantage because of their condition.

The findings were based on a survey of more than 3,500 people, many describing themselves as “key workers” in the education and health sectors

Other results showed that 22 per cent were concerned their managers would judge them poorly because Long Covid had negatively affected their performance and 18 per cent were concerned they would miss out on future promotions.

A similar proportion (18%) said the amount of sick leave they had taken had triggered absence management or HR processes, while 9 per cent had used all their sick leave entitlement and had been warned there would be negative consequences if they took more.

The survey also found a widespread disbelief of those who said they had long Covid. 19% said their employer had questioned the impact of their symptoms, while 13% said their employer had questioned whether they had Long Covid at all.

The survey found that ‘brain fog’ – difficulty thinking clearly – was the most commonly reported symptom cited by 72 per cent of respondents. This was followed by difficulty concentrating and memory problems (62 and 54 per cent respectively). A majority of those polled (83 per cent) also reported experiencing at least one of a range of pain-related symptoms, and 32 per cent experienced depression.

The TUC has called for Long Covid to be recognised as a disability under the Equality Act, arguing that those with the condition already meet the criteria for living with a disability – a “physical or mental impairment…[that] has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on [their] ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”. It has also called on the government to recognise Long Covid as an occupational disease.