Disability discrimination: Long Covid

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Disability discrimination: Long Covid

Published 10 June 2022

The EHRC has clarified that, while long Covid will not automatically constitute a disability, it may amount to a disability.

THE FACTS

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) issued a statement in May confirming that “long Covid” is not among the conditions listed in discrimination legislation as automatically constituting a disability (conditions which are automatically deemed to be disabilities include cancer, HIV and multiple sclerosis).  The EHRC clarified that long Covid may amount to a disability for any particular individual.  Long Covid will therefore be a disability (as defined by discrimination legislation in the Equality Act 2010) if it has a substantial and long term adverse effect on the individual’s ability to carry out normal day to day activities. 

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR EMPLOYERS?

The Office of National Statistics has estimated that 1.8 million people in the UK are experiencing long Covid symptoms.  Many employers will therefore be dealing with issues associated with long Covid, including the impact of long Covid on employee attendance and performance.  Employers should consider, based on an individual’s condition and the circumstances and, where appropriate, taking OH advice, whether reasonable adjustments should be made and whether any action taken against the employee might constitute discrimination. 

EHRC statement on ‘long Covid’, disability and the Equality Act

Authors

Zoë Wigan

Zoë Wigan

London - Walbrook

+44 (0)20 7894 6564

Ceri Fuller

Ceri Fuller

London - Walbrook

+44 (0)20 7894 6583

Hilary Larter

Hilary Larter

Leeds

+44 (0)113 251 4710

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