‘Another unequal burden’: working with long Covid

She has found solace in online support groups that connect her with others trying to cope with recovery and career changes, she said.

“I drop a lot of balls all the time that I never did before,” said Ms Bailey, whose job as campaign coordinator for a London charity was not renewed last year after her contract expired. “I don’t really know where to go now. I can no longer do the work I used to love.”

Some countries in Western Europe have robust 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 safeguards. Because people who have not been vaccinated may be at higher risk of developing Covid long-term, companies in regions with low vaccination rates, such as the South, may have more staff shortages than those in regions with higher vaccination rates, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. rates, said Mrs Dunne.

“It’s going to be an unequal burden again,” Mrs. Dunne said. “The South already has a much higher percentage of people with disabilities than the Northeast and Midwest. That will also get worse.”

A major logistical hurdle in the United States for workers with long-term Covid is eligibility for unemployment benefits. There is no single test to diagnose it, and it is only vaguely defined, with so much still unknown. That can make it more difficult for people to be diagnosed and access disability benefits. It could also complicate responses from employers, who are still figuring out how to deal with coronavirus-related work problems, including the fraught question of whether Covid vaccinations should be mandatory for employees.

Katie Brennan, a consultant to the Society for Human Resource Management, said employers should consider their legal obligations to employees under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act. With FMLA, eligible workers are entitled to 12 weeks off, and state protections may also be in effect, she said.

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