The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) has expressed support for a petition calling on the UK government to formally recognise long Covid as a disability under the Equality Act 2010.

The petition was moved by the Trade Union Congress (TUC).

As per latest government figures, a staggering 385,000 people have been living with symptoms of long Covid for a year or more. This includes pharmacists who have contacted the PDA for advice and support with this chronic condition.

Symptoms of long Covid include fatigue, brain fog and shortness of breath, and it’s more common in key workers, women and those living in the most deprived areas.

The Equality Act 2010 defines disability as a “physical or mental impairment…[that] has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on [their] ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”.

Government guidance makes clear that ‘long-term’ means 12 months or more, the PDA said.

The TUC recognise that many who have long Covid already meet these criteria and should therefore be protected under the law.

The petition states that it’s high time for people with long Covid to be properly protected at work. The government must act now to:

  • Automatically recognise long Covid as a disability under the Equality Act, so workers are protected from discrimination and have a legal right to reasonable adjustments like longer rest breaks and flexible hours.
  • Ensure a right to compensation, so anyone who contracts long Covid through work can be properly compensated for loss of income and injury.

Extending Equality Act 2010 protections would ensure that employers cannot legally discriminate against them.

The move would also put a duty on employers to make reasonable adjustments that remove, reduce or prevent any disadvantages workers with long Covid face, as for any other enduring condition or disability.

Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary, said: “Long Covid must be recognised as a disability. That would mean workers are protected by the Equality Act and would have a right to get reasonable adjustments at work… Covid-19 should be designated as an occupational disease. That would allow workers who contracted Covid-19 at work and are living with the consequences to claim the compensation they are due.”

Paul Day, PDA Director added: “For those who are experiencing long Covid, the impact of this pandemic may never end. It is right that those who have caught the virus because they were at work are compensated and that all those with the condition are protected from discrimination at work. We encourage pharmacists and their teams to sign and share this petition.”

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