Is long COVID a disability under the Equality Act 2010?
It is possible that long COVID could meet the definition of disability under the Equality Act 2010, but this would depend on the circumstances in each case, and the impact that the condition has on the individual.
Under the Act, a disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on an individual's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
A person does not need a formal diagnosis of a particular condition to fall within the definition, but they must be able to show that each element of the definition is met. The condition must last for at least one year to meet the requirement of being long term.
Therefore, where an employee has long COVID, the employer should consider whether their symptoms have a substantial adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities, and whether this is likely to last for at least a year. This assessment should be based on medical evidence. Where the definition is met, the employer will have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for the employee.
Where it is unclear whether the employee is disabled within the meaning of the Act, for example if it is not known how long the symptoms will last, employers may decide that it would be appropriate to consider reasonable adjustments in any event. For example, it may be reasonable to support the employee to work from home or to adjust their hours.