Long-COVID – managing staff

What is Long-COVID?

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) defines ‘Long-COVID’ as either the ‘signs and symptoms’ that continue or develop for a period of between 4-12 weeks after an episode of acute COVID‑19 or ‘post‑COVID‑19 syndrome’, where the symptoms persist for 12 weeks or longer, and which are not explained by an alternative diagnosis.

Managing staff with Long-COVID tips

  • Take a flexible, individualised and compassionate approach
  • To avoid unintended discrimination, treat the condition as an unconfirmed disability, especially amongst older, ethnic minority and female staff [the most affected groups]
  • Make reasonable adjustments – these are a matter for managerial discretion
  • Carry out health & safety risk assessments where these are deemed to be appropriate
  • Work with HR providers and liaise with recognised workplace trade unions.

Supporting absent staff with Long-COVID

  • Refer to the Sickness Absence Management procedure
  • Work with your HR provider to agree on a standard approach to Long-COVID cases
  • Put in place appropriate ‘return to work’ arrangements e.g. flexible or home working
  • Consider using the school’s occupational health service to facilitate a return to work

Reasonable adjustments could include:

  • adjust the sickness absence triggers
  • allow extended phased return to work periods
  • make adjustments to working hours and the type of work done
  • modify performance objectives to match the capacity of the staff member
  • allow staff to work or to continue to work from home
  • provide additional access to occupational health & employee assistance programmes

Sick pay

  • Work with your HR provider to satisfy yourself that the statutory sick pay provisions are well-understood and correctly applied
  • For teaching staff, these provisions are set out in ‘The Burgundy Book’
  • For support staff, these provisions are set out in ‘The Green Book’, Part 2, Para 10.3 in particular – discretion can be exercised in extending the period of sick pay in exceptional circumstances, which include helping an employee to avoid incurring financial hardship. If this provision is invoked, it’s important that a consistent approach is taken across the school to all similar types of absence and circumstances.


Consider updating relevant policies, e.g. flexible working and sickness absence policies

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