The TUC has joined the organisations calling for long Covid to be recognised as a disability under the Equality Act and to be classified as an occupational disease.
The move follows last week’s report by the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council, which recommended that five “serious pathological complications” of Covid-19 should be entitled to Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, but pulled back from calling for long Covid to be added to the prescribed list.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady called on the government to recognise long Covid as a disability, naming it as such under the Equality Act so as to ensure everyone with symptoms is protected and has a right to get reasonable adjustments at work.
In the spring the Equality and Human Rights Commission said people with long Covid should be treated as having a disability, but later clarified its position by stating that some cases may not meet the definition of disability.
O’Grady also called for long Covid to be classified as an occupational disease, as this would entitle more front-line workers to protection and compensation if they contracted the virus while working.
The IIAC in its report Covid-19 and Occupational Impacts argued that health and social care workers should, where appropriate, be entitled to the benefit, as they “have been exposed to significantly increased risk of infection” because of being in frequent close proximity to patients or clients.
“Workers in health and social care are among the most likely to be infected with Covid-19 while doing their job, and many are still suffering the consequences of long-term ill health effects,” O’Grady said.
“It’s time to recognise this condition as occupational, and make sure workers who are living with post-Covid symptoms get the support they need.
“Ministers must accept the recommendations of the IIAC and ensure that our health and social care workers, made long-term ill as a result of Covid exposure at work, get financial support. We owe this to the key workers who kept our country going through the pandemic. Anything less would be a national scandal,” she added.