If any of your workers are currently absent due to Long Covid, it is important to ensure you have the right Occupational Health process in place, including clear plans on how to manage conversations with the employee while they are off, and their eventual return to work.
Symptoms of Long Covid are extremely wide ranging, including problems with memory or concentration (brain fog), tiredness, headaches, chest/breathing/digestive/bladder problems, joint pain, speech or language issues (e.g. developing a stutter), insomnia, changes to taste and or smell, skin conditions, depression and anxiety. Younger people are also far more likely to be affected.
Recently published figures from Imperial College show that over 2 million people have reported suffering from Long Covid symptoms, and one third of all those who contract the virus are likely to suffer symptoms for at least 12 weeks. This means that every employer – even if they haven’t had a long-covid related absence yet, is likely to in the future. A recent Trades Union Congress (TUC) survey also showed that half of employees dealing with Long Covid feel they have experienced discrimination at work because of it, and the legalities around long-term sickness management could change in the near future to offer workers more protection.
An Occupational Health Assessment is more valuable than a doctor’s medical report as it specifically looks at how the employee does their job and how that might affect their health. The resulting report will be shared with the employee and will include recommendations – for example lighter duties or a course of therapy such as counselling or physiotherapy. It will also set out how their progress should be assessed and when, and will provide information which will help you to manage your employee set clear policies on what medical evidence is needed and how long sick pay should continue.
If it is clear that a worker cannot continue to do their job, even with reasonable adjustments, You may then need to consider undertaking a capability procedure as the last resort. This is formal disciplinary action and a full investigation needs to be done fairly, in line with workplace policy and employment law, before deciding on redeployment into another role or, if this is not possible, a dismissal, which workers will have the right to appeal against.
For further advice or quotes for Occupational Health and Return-to-Work Assessments contact Medacs Healthcare on 01642 495 420 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Medacs Healthcare is an SEQOHS-accredited and NHS framework-approved provider of Occupational Health services. We offer Return to Work Assessments, Specialist Medical Assessments, Absence Management and Health Surveillance services, and Flu Vaccinations.
By Medacs Healthcare