Employment, financial support and claiming benefits


Long COVID is now recognised as a condition by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). Having it can:

  • affect your ability to work
  • cause you to take sickness absence

Worrying about money can make the physical symptoms of long COVID worse.

Employment and returning to work

Employment

The usual rules for sickness absence and sick pay apply when someone is off work because of long COVID.

You can find advice for employers and employees on the ACAS website.

Returning to work

These suggestions to help you return to work are taken from the Hertfordshire Community Trust – Long COVID Rehabilitation booklet.

Before returning to work it's important to think about the physical and cognitive demands of your job. Cognitive demands are your thinking skills:

  • attention
  • problem solving
  • organisational

Compare the skills you need to do your job to how much you can manage at home. Ideally the amount you can do at home should match the amount you need to do at work. Get some feedback on your current abilities as you may have been off work for some time and may not be aware of how tired or unfit you are.

By doing some normal day to day activities at home, you can begin to understand your current abilities. If it's safe to do so, try:

  • sorting through paper work, and letters
  • placing books or CDs in alphabetical order
  • using your computer for email, research or social media
  • walking; how long and far will depend on your current abilities and symptoms
  • helping with a mini DIY project but do not use ladders or sharp tools
  • making phone calls maybe to the bank, a local shop, ordering a family takeaway
  • cooking yourself a meal or snack

Many of these activities need similar skills and abilities that you'll need to have for returning to work. For example; using your home computer for emails and social media can help you to build up your typing skills and concentration.

Once you've tried some activities, think about:

  • how you managed those activities
  • what went well
  • what you struggled with
  • if you need to practice anything

The more information you have about how you find different activities at home will help you decide when you're ready to go back to work. This information can also help you to structure your return to work and understand any changes that you might need when you're back at work.

The University Hospitals of Derby and Burton have published a video series on returning to work with Long COVID - guidance for employees and managers. It includes information on:

  • managing COVID-19 related symptoms during sickness absence
  • return to work rehabilitation
  • managing ongoing COVID-19 related symptoms in the workplace
  • advice for managers on supporting staff with ongoing COVID-19 related symptoms to return to work