Long Covid Held to be a Disability

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In the case of Burke v Turning Point Scotland , the Tribunal Judge held that an employee with long Covid symptoms was disabled under the Equality Act 2010.

The Claimant brought various claims against his employer including for disability discrimination. As a preliminary matter, the Judge considered whether Mr Burke was disabled on the basis that he suffered from long Covid symptoms. Mr Burke first contracted Covid during November 2020. He remained off sick and he was dismissed in August 2021 due to ill health.

The Claimant’s Covid symptoms were mild at first however, after the isolation period, he developed severe headaches and fatigue. He  outlined how he struggled to undertake basic tasks such as showering, dressing, housework, cooking and shopping. Problems were exacerbated by joint pains and a loss of appetite. He also found that his concentration was not the same and that sleep was disrupted. His symptoms only began to improve over a year later.

The Judge considered the claimant’s and his daughter’s evidence, medical documentation and the June 2021 TUC report. It was concluded that the claimant had a physical impairment, that it had an adverse effect on his ability to carry on normal day-to-day activities, the effect was substantial and long term.

This is only an Employment Tribunal decision so it is not binding on future cases. It also does not mean that every long-Covid sufferer will be disabled. Each case will turn on its own facts. However, It does mean that employers should handle cases concerning long Covid particularly carefully and seek legal advice as appropriate.

30th June 2022