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Tribunal decision – long-Covid can amount to a disability

Posted on: June 23rd, 2022 by Halborns Limited

An employment tribunal has held that the symptoms of long-Covid can amount to a disability for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010.

Background

An employee contracted Covid-19 in 2020 and he was unable to return to work for nine months due to continuing symptoms of long-Covid (extreme fatigue, joint pain and anxiety for example). He was dismissed by his employer due to continued absence and being ‘too ill to return to work’. The tribunal held that his symptoms did amount to a disability as they had a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his day-to-day activities and he could proceed with his claim for disability discrimination.

Practical takeaways

Fact dependent – this decision does not mean that every case of long-Covid will amount to a disability. However, it does mean that caution should be taken when employees are absent for what could be long-Covid. An assessment will still need to be made of the individual’s specific symptoms and whether they’re substantial and long-term enough to potentially give rise to a disability.

Medical evidence – always key when circumstances could give rise to a disability. Make sure you obtain an appropriate medical report to ensure you’ve got all the facts before determining whether or not the employee is disabled.

The Office for National Statistics estimates that around 2 million people in the UK currently have symptoms of long-Covid. 71% of those reported a significant adverse impact on their day-to-day activities which could mean we’ll begin to see an increase in disability-related cases in this area.

Securing the right advice early can help to minimise potential discrimination risks when managing absence – Intelligent Employment is here to help. Find out more.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (23 June 2022), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.