LONDON (Reuters) – A quarter of British employers have cited long COVID as a main cause of long-term sickness absences, a survey by a professional body found on Tuesday, adding that it raised questions over how workers with the condition were being supported in their jobs.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is leading a strategy for the country to live with COVID, lifting restrictions as booster shots and the lower severity of the Omicron variant weaken the link between cases and death.
However, Britain is still averaging around 80,000 cases each day, and mild cases of COVID-19 can still lead to debilitating long COVID and associated symptoms of fatigue, memory issues and brain fog.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that 26% of employers now include long COVID as a main cause of long-term sickness absence, in a survey of 804 organisations that represent more than 4.3 million employees.
The CIPD said that 46% of the organisations had employees that had experienced long COVID, and that employers should do more to support workers with the condition.
“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,” said Rachel Suff, senior policy adviser for employment relations at the CIPD.
Britain has reported nearly 18 million COVID-19 cases overall, and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates that at the start of 2022, 1.3 million people were living with self-reported symptoms of long COVID.
The CIPD said that a fifth of employers didn’t know whether their workers were experiencing ongoing symptoms following COVID infection, and only 19% 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,” Suff said.
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