How to Manage Employees With Long COVID

Insurance specialist washing hands with anti-bacterial gel

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc upon the UK, including employers across all sectors. But even when employees have seemingly recovered from a case of COVID-19, it is important to recognise the extended effects that the disease may have on them.

Long COVID refers to long-term issues that are being lived with by people who have recovered from COVID-19. While many people with COVID-19 generally feel better within a matter of days or weeks, extended health problems may continue for months after the infection has been defeated. Symptoms of long COVID include, but are not limited to:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain and tightness
  • Problems with memory or concentration
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Difficulty sleeping

During a return-to-work period, organisations should consider lowering expectations and workloads for those who have recently been sick. Pushing employees too hard right away can increase their chance of developing long-term physical or mental health issues.
Beyond the initial return process, employers should continue to monitor employees for signs of long COVID. Employers should manage someone with long COVID similarly to how they would manage an employee with any long-term condition. Long-term absences should be proactively managed, and an appropriate level of contact should be maintained between the absent employee and their superior.

Long COVID can manifest itself in many different ways and may have serious implications on both the physical and mental health of employees. Being aware of who may be at risk for long COVID and how to accommodate them will help employers manage these situations.