How to Develop a Long COVID Policy for Employees

 Feb 27, 2024 | 3 Min Read

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As the effects from the COVID-19 continue to unfold globally, the condition of long COVID is still something that all of us, including business leaders, are struggling to fully grasp. If your organisation employs team members with long COVID, it’s crucial that you have the proper plans and documentation in place to support them – and that includes a comprehensive long COVID policy for employees.
Long COVID refers to a range of persistent symptoms experienced by individuals after recovering from COVID-19. These symptoms can vary widely and may include fatigue, shortness of breath, cognitive difficulties, and joint pain, among others. The unpredictable nature of long COVID means that it can often affect employees productivity, attendance and wellbeing at work - underscoring the importance of having proactive measures in place to support affected employees.
While not all individuals with long COVID will meet the legal definition of a disability, employers should understand their obligations under their relevant disability discrimination laws. Accommodating employees with long COVID may involve providing reasonable adjustments, such as modified work schedules or changes to job duties, to ensure equal access to work for everyone.
  • Education and awareness: Start by educating employees and leadership about the potential symptoms and impact of long COVID. Due to the nature of this condition, many people may find it difficult to recognise symptoms both in themselves and others – it's important to support those who may be struggling with a diagnosis. Encourage open communication and create a supportive environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their health concerns.
  • Flexible work arrangements: Consider implementing flexible work arrangements to accommodate employees experiencing long COVID symptoms. This may include options for remote work, modified schedules, or reduced hours to allow for rest and recovery. This approach should be adaptable for other chronic conditions – no employee should have to suffer in silence when it comes to their health. 
  • Access to healthcare resources: Provide employees with access to comprehensive healthcare resources, including telemedicine services, mental health support, and specialists familiar with managing long COVID symptoms. All of this is especially important if your organisation employs people overseas – having access to reliable healthcare while abroad can make a huge difference. 
  • Paid sick leave and disability benefits: Depending on your country’s laws and individual employees’ conditions, long COVID may meet the criteria for disability accommodation at work. Review your existing policies to ensure that employees affected by long COVID have access to paid sick leave and disability benefits as needed. 
  • Return-to-work protocols: Develop clear return-to-work protocols for employees recovering from long COVID who may wish to return to work after an extended period off. It’s a good idea to phase back to work slowly, and work out a schedule that works best for everyone on the team. 
  • Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs): Review and update your existing Employee Assistance Programmes to provide additional support for mental health and wellbeing around long COVID. This condition can take an emotional and psychological toll on patients – consider whether confidential counseling services and resources might be of benefit to your staff. 
Incorporating a comprehensive long COVID policy into your organisation's framework is essential for supporting employees' health, productivity, and overall wellbeing. By taking proactive steps to educate, accommodate, and empower employees affected by long COVID, businesses can demonstrate their commitment to a supportive and inclusive workplace.
Allianz Partners can help your business to look after its employees in times of turmoil. Take a look at our international group health insurance page for more information.