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Equalities watchdog issues statement on ‘long Covid’ and disability

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has issued a statement on ‘long Covid’, disability and the Equality Act.

In the statement the watchdog said: “There continues to be discussion of the various symptoms related to Covid-19 that are often referred to as ‘long Covid’ and whether they would constitute a disability under the Equality Act.

“Given that ‘long Covid’ is not among the conditions listed in the Equality Act as ones which are automatically a disability, such as cancer, HIV and multiple sclerosis, we cannot say that all cases of ‘long Covid’ will fall under the definition of disability in the Equality Act.”

The EHRC said this did not affect whether ‘long Covid’ might amount to a disability for any particular individual – “it will do so if it has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”. 

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This would be determined by the employment tribunal or court considering any claim of disability discrimination, the watchdog said.

It added: “To support workers affected by ‘long Covid’ and avoid the risk of inadvertent discrimination, we would recommend that employers continue to follow existing guidance when considering reasonable adjustments for disabled people and access to flexible working, based on the circumstances of individual cases.”

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