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1 in 4 employers say long Covid main cause of long-term sickness absence

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One in four (26 per cent) employers include long Covid among their main causes of long-term sickness absence, new research from HR body, CIPD shows.


Of the 804 organisations surveyed, which CIPD says represents more than 4.3 million employees, nearly half of employers have staff who have experienced long Covid in the last year.

But only a quarter (26 per cent) of organisations are providing training or guidance for line managers on how to support people to stay at work when managing health conditions. And an even smaller number (19 per cent) provide any guidance for employees.

Nearly half of employers have staff who have experienced long Covid in the last year, says the CIPD. Photograph: iStock

CIPD is concerned that some employees may be missing out on support or may not feel confident about how to disclose any issues and seek help.

Rachel Suff, senior policy adviser for employment relations at the CIPD, commented: “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.”

“Employers should ensure they have a supportive and inclusive culture that helps employees feel confident to discuss a health condition and ask for support or helpful changes when needed, such as a phased return or flexible working arrangements,” she added.

Encouragingly, of those firms with employees who have experienced long Covid, many are taking steps to support their staff. These include tailoring support to individual need (60 pre cent) and promoting flexible working (58 per cent).

Angela Sherwood, Chief People Officer at Simplyhealth, which sponsored the research, said: “We encourage all employers to recognise the full impact of Covid in their organisation and to update their health and wellbeing strategies to support employees back to full health and into work.”

To support employers, the CIPD/Affinity Health at Work have released a new report ‘Working with long COVID: Research evidence to inform support’ which is available here

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