‘Another uneven load’: working with prolonged covid

She has found some comfort in online support groups that connect her with others who are trying to navigate recovery and career changes, she said.

“I drop a lot of balls all the time than ever before,” said Ms. Bailey, whose job as campaign coordinator for a charity in London was not renewed last year after her contract ended. “I really don’t know where to go next. I can’t do the jobs that she loved before.”

Some Western European countries have strong policies to protect people with disabilities, said Philippa Dunne, one of the authors of a report published by the Solve Long Covid Initiative, a nonprofit research and advocacy group.

In the United States, however, there are fewer protections. Since people who are not vaccinated may be at higher risk of developing prolonged covid, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, businesses in regions with low vaccination rates, such as the South, may have more shortages of workers than those in regions with higher vaccination. fees, said Ms. Dunne.

“It’s going to be another lopsided load,” Dunne said. “The South already has a much higher rate of people with disabilities than the Northeast and Midwest. That’s going to get worse too.”

A major logistical hurdle in the United States for employees with prolonged Covid is qualifying for unemployment benefits. There is no single test to diagnose it, and it is only loosely defined, with much still unknown. That can make it harder for people to get diagnosed and get access to disability benefits. It may also complicate responses from employers, who are still figuring out how to handle coronavirus-related workplace issues, including the sensitive issue of whether Covid vaccinations should be required for workers.

Katie Brennan, an adviser to the Society for Human Resource Management, said employers need to consider their legal obligations to employees under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Under FMLA, eligible employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks off and state protections may also exist, she said.

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