People suffering from long Covid have reacted with alarm to comments by government’s equalities watchdog that the condition should not be treated as a disability.
Under the Equalities Act, anyone with a physical or mental impairment that has lasted for longer than 12 months and substantially impacted their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities qualifies as disabled and is entitled to protection to ensure that they aren’t discriminated against in the workplace. This includes requesting that their employer makes “reasonable adjustments”, such as flexible working hours or home working, to ensure that they can continue working.
In a tweet posted on Sunday night, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which was set up to promote and enforce equality and non-discrimination laws said: “Discussions continue on whether ‘long Covid’ symptoms constitute a disability. Without case law or scientific consensus, EHRC does not recommend that ‘long Covid’ be treated as a disability.”
The statement prompted immediate concern and confusion from long Covid support groups and unions.
Dr Jenny Ceolta-Smith, an employment advocate for Long Covid Support and co-founder of Occupational Therapy for Long Covid, said: “There is already disbelief of workers’ long Covid symptoms within the workplace, and this harmful announcement by the EHRC may make it much harder for workers to gain the support that they need from colleagues and line managers. It may even mean more jobs are lost.”
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Source: The Guardian, 9 May 2022