Long Covid – Employees’ Rights
If your domestic or household staff are continuing to be ill following a Covid-19 infection, they could be suffering from Long Covid.
So what are the symptoms? What are the implications for continuing payment? What are the compensation implications?
The situation is complex, but it is important that you, as an employer of domestic/household staff, are aware of the condition and the on-going aspects.
Long Covid is a very new health condition, the symptoms of which are only just becoming apparent. Little is known about the long-term prognosis and there is uncertainty about recovery times.
According to the Department of Health and Social Care the condition could involve 55 different long-term effects with the common ones being breathlessness, headaches, cough, fatigue and cognitive impairment or ‘brain fog’.
As time goes on, an increasing number of people who have had Covid-19 are developing these long-term symptoms which are preventing them from working.
Although the condition is new there is nothing new about the rights and entitlements of employees on sickness. These have not changed and Covid should be dealt with in the same way as any other sickness in terms of employment rights
Essentially, an employee who is suffering any long-term health condition (whether that be long Covid or otherwise) will find their employment rights set out in their employment contract, the legislation in relation to protection from unfair dismissal, and the Equality Act, where the health condition qualifies as a disability.
In some cases of severe long Covid the condition will qualify as a disability under the act.
As a minimum, employees are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), which is often far less than the individual is normally paid with the current 2020 rates at £96.35 per week for a maximum of 28 weeks.
What should employers do?
Once an employee reports that they have long Covid and need to take sick leave, the employer should first agree how and when to make contact during absences to ensure that appropriate review and support can be provided.
This is a developing situation and we will update you as developments occur.
The Graham Agency, keeping you informed.