Research perspectives

Survey finds link between Long Covid and unfair treatment at work

A survey by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and peer support group Long Covid Support has found 66% of employees with long Covid said they had experienced one or more types of unfair treatment at work. This includes 16% who had been subject to bullying or harassment at work.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) earlier this year there are two million people suffering from long Covid. Symptoms can include fatigue, cognitive dysfunction and difficulty with breathing.

In this survey, which summarises the findings of a self-selecting survey of 3,097 people with Long Covid in September/October 2022:

  • Almost two thirds (63%) of respondents said the illness has limited their ability to carry out everyday activities.
  •  Half of respondents (49%) said they thought they had contracted Covid-19 at work.
  • Almost a quarter of respondents said their employer has questioned whether they have long Covid and/or the impact of their symptoms. 
  • More than one in 10 (12%) suffering with long Covid have not informed their employers of their symptoms. 
  • A third (36%) said it was because they did not think their employer would do anything and 31% said they were worried their symptoms would be viewed negatively by their employer.
  • Of the employees who asked for changes in their job to accommodate their condition, half (50%) were not given all or any of the changes needed to manage their job.

As a result of the survey the TUC and Long Covid Support have called for the government to specify long Covid as a legal disability so they are protected under the Equality Act 2010, to strengthen flexible working rights and provide universal access to occupational health.