One in four UK workers say long Covid is main reason for extended sick leave

Millions of employees claim fatigue and brain fog are among symptoms

A quarter of British workers have cited long Covid as the cause for lengthy absences from work, a survey has shown. AFP
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One in four British workers who have taken time off work with illness have reported long Covid is the main reason for their prolonged sick leave, a survey has revealed.

The research, encompassing 804 organisations that represent more than 4.3 employees, showed nearly half (46 per cent) of firms had workers that experienced symptoms of long Covid.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), a human resources group, which carried out the questionnaire, said companies should do more to support employees with the condition.

The NHS says long Covid symptoms include extreme tiredness, shortness of breath, dizziness, concentration and memory problems, joint pain and low moods, among others. CIPD’s survey showed 26 per cent of employees had listed the condition as a cause for long-term absence.

Fatigue is a common symptom of long Covid.  Getty Images

Rachel Suff, senior policy adviser for employment relations at the CIPD, said long Covid “remains a growing issue that employers need to be aware of, and they should take appropriate steps to support employees with the condition”.

Her call comes as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains determined to steer millions away from Covid-19 restrictions. In January, he declined to extend measures aimed at curbing the spread of Omicron. Backbench MPs in his own party called for the rules to be rolled back and welcomed his decision to scrap face mask requirements and a working-from-home order.

Quarantine and travel testing rules were also eased for vaccinated travellers. The government’s decision to take a less-severe stance on tackling Covid-19 came after scientists said Omicron was less severe than initially thought.

But despite the lifting of restrictions, Britain is still averaging around 80,000 coronavirus cases each day.

Britain has reported nearly 18 million infections overall, and the Office for National Statistics estimates that at the start of the year, 1.3 million people were living with self-reported symptoms of long Covid. Mild cases of the virus can still lead to the debilitating condition.

In January, an expert said it could take a person with long Covid up to three years to fully recover from the condition.

The CIPD said a fifth of employers didn't know whether their workers were experiencing ongoing symptoms following a Covid-19 infection, and only 19 per cent provided guidance for employees about managing health conditions while at work.

"There's a risk that those who experience ongoing long Covid symptoms may not get the support they need in the workplace and could even fall out of work," Ms Suff said

Updated: February 09, 2022, 7:13 AM
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