Council for Work and Health statement on Long Covid
For people with Long Covid, there needs to be workplace support for return to work. There needs to be sustained joined up services to assist people with Long Covid who are at work to stay at work, through medical, biopsychosocial and workplace support and vocational rehabilitation.
Many employers have gone above-and-beyond to make sure their staff feel supported as the pandemic has unfolded, and this is essential for people with Long Covid who may benefit from slower graduated returns and ongoing accommodations due to their fluctuating symptoms. Such support is the right thing to do after the pandemic but may also help organisations avoid talent leaving the workforce and even legal challenge.
We are particularly concerned about the impact of poor management support due to a lack of knowledge, skill and resources to effectively manage people with Long Covid. Good line management of people with Long Covid is crucial.
Employers have a duty of care to their staff and now more than ever, every employee with Long Covid needs to be treated with compassion, to be listened to and supported through difficulties that Long Covid presents with.
As Long Covid is a new health issue, the patient perspective is particularly important e.g. with care taken on physical exertion until appropriate diagnostic tests have occurred.
The Council asks for evidence-based NHS services for people with Long Covid, across the nations of the UK that works with occupational and vocational rehabilitation specialists on return to work.
The Council also wishes to ensure Long Covid is prevented, fundamentally by avoiding Covid-19 transmission. It notes the risk of workplace transmission at work. The hierarchy of controls and effective risk assessments remain essential to keep the likelihood of exposure to COVID-19 as low as possible.
Returning to work toolkits for employers and occupational health professionals
Managing the safe return to the workplace of millions of UK workers needs careful planning.
Our toolkits, produced in partnership with the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas), the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), Business in the Community (BITC), and Mind, the mental health charity, will help businesses plan to reopen shuttered workplaces.
There are two toolkits: one for employers and one for occupational health professionals, who are supporting businesses make the workplaces covid-secure. You can download them for free.
Planning workers’ return
Here are five things any business needs to do before employees come back
- Contact workers about coming back to the workplace as far in advance of their expected return as you can
- Be prepared to have more than one conversation with your employee and use every contact to reassure them about the care you’re taking to open up the workplace
- Together with your employee, identify anything that might be an obstacle to their return. Obstacles can be personal, such as difficulty with childcare, practical, such as how they travel to the workplace, and even anxiety about catching covid-19.
- Agree with each member of staff a return to work plan which lists who will do what and when.
- If the obstacles identified are more than managers and HR departments can resolve, call in occupational health (OH) professionals. OH professionals support the well-being of workers, preventing ill-health, providing independent advice to organisations, facilitating steps to reduce sickness absence, and controlling infection risks.
Not sure how to start conversations with your furloughed staff? Here are some conversation starters you can use.
- “How has life been?”
- “Are you OK about coming back?”
- “Do you feel safe coming back?”
- “How we can make your job better?”
- “Do you know who to talk with if any problems crop up?”
If someone has existing common health problems, questions could include
- “Do you feel up to doing your usual job?”
- “What parts of your job do you think you will find difficult and what can we change to help overcome the difficulties?”
Getting the UK back to work
Work is good for us and the country needs to get back to good, safe jobs, in which people are safe and feel supported. Our Returning to the workplace toolkits can help all kinds of business achieve this. Download them for free from the Resources section.
The guideline has now been published on the NICE website
Welcome to the October health and wellbeing newsletter.
To access the document please click here.
Putting ability first – your monthly update from Remploy
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WHU Consultation – Health is everyone’s business, proposals to reduce ill-health related job loss
Council for Work and Health members have actively contributed to the extensive research and debate resulting in this welcomed consultation initiative. It is disappointing that many UK workers, particularly in small businesses, but even in large employers such as the NHS, have inconsistent access to good quality occupational health support when ill. This exercise seeks to test ideas to enable more workers to get support when needed and hence reduce the numbers that face being unable to work due to resolvable issues. Council members will actively respond to this consultation and we urge as many as possible to contribute to this vital debate and support opportunity for change.