If you have been affected by Long Covid and have been unable to work or have been disciplined at work, you may be able to make a claim for personal injury compensation and/or for unfair treatment at work.
If you are thinking of making a claim, you can Talk to Thompsons today, and if you would like more information, our FAQs below provide information on some of the most relevant topics.
Long Covid is a term used to describe the effects of COVID-19 that continue for weeks or months beyond the initial illness. The symptoms of Long Covid may include extreme tiredness, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain or tightness, problems with memory and concentration, changes to taste and smell, and joint pain.
Your employer owes you a duty of care to reduce the risk of exposure to harm as far as reasonably practicable and this duty has continued throughout the pandemic. There are several steps your employer can take to reduce your risk of becoming infected with COVID-19.
Under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations your employer has a duty to protect you from harmful biological agents, including COVID-19. Employers also have a duty under the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations, although PPE such as masks and gloves, should be treated as a last line of defence.
Every employer should now have a specific COVID-19 risk assessment in place, and any particularly at-risk employees should be identified.
Long Covid sufferers may have periods of absence from work due to ill health or, in the most severe cases, may be unable to return to work at all. Research into Long Covid is ongoing and it is currently not clear how many people will be affected, however, the numbers are likely to be significant.
A study by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre has found that 70% of patients hospitalised with COVID-19 were still unwell several months after discharge and out of those who had been employed before their diagnosis, almost 20% had been unable to return to work.
If you have contracted COVID-19 in the course of your employment as a result of your employer's negligence, then you may be entitled to compensation. However, the cases will be complex and specialist legal representation will be required.
Personal injury claims for Covid-19 will be run in the same way as any other industrial disease compensation claim. To succeed you will need to prove that your employer or your colleagues were negligent, that this caused you to be infected with coronavirus and caused harm.
Compensation for the harm you have suffered will include amounts for the physical symptoms and any long term consequences (pain and suffering) as well as the wages you have lost.
The Government legislation and guidance specific to COVID-19 has continually evolved throughout the pandemic but employers should have ensured they were fully compliant at all times. If you make a claim for compensation, the legislation and rules that were in the place at the time you contracted COVID-19 will be relevant to your case.
To succeed in a civil compensation claim against your employer, you will need to prove that the source of infection was your workplace, although it is important to remember that you need only prove the point on the balance of probabilities. The solicitors acting for your employer are likely to examine your lifestyle at the time of infection as they will attempt to focus on any potential exposure outside of the workplace.
You will need to supply detailed statements about your work and your workplace. Witness statements from your work colleagues will also be very useful. If it is clear that other members of the workforce have been infected or the Government guidelines have not been followed by your employer, this will strengthen your case considerably.
To succeed in a claim for compensation, you will also need to establish what reasonable, practical steps your employer should have taken to reduce or avoid the risk of infection. As a result, complex evidence will be required, including the instruction of multiple expert reports.
Potentially, compensation claims for Long Covid could be high value and guidance can be sought from other industrial diseases with similar symptoms. If you are unable to return to work or need to reduce your hours as a result of ongoing symptoms, then your claim will include future wage losses which could be a substantial sum.
The length of time you experience symptoms as well as their severity will have an impact on the amount which can sought for pain and suffering. However, expert reports will be required to properly value any claims and so specialist legal advice will be crucial.
Strict time limits will apply to claims arising from COVID-19. Court proceedings must be raised within three years of the date of infection or positive test result, or, if the disease has resulted in death of an infected person, three years from the date of death. Given the complex nature of claims for COVID-19 and Long Covid, it is therefore essential that investigation begins as soon as possible.
In the vast majority of cases, compensation will be paid out from your employers' business insurance cover. It is a legal requirement for all UK employers to have Employer's Liability insurance.
Just like other work-related claims against an employer, you are protected in law from unfair dismissal and discrimination made on the basis of a Covid claim against your employer.
If you are absent from work as a result of Long Covid, whether the COVID-19 illness was contracted at work or in another setting, it will be treated in the same way as any other illness-related absence. The usual rules for sickness absence and sick pay will apply. Similarly, the same employment law protections already in place will be applicable.
Your employer should attempt to support you during your recovery from Long Covid and, if you are struggling, should suggest suitable changes to your employment conditions. You may be required to have an occupational health assessment and your employer may suggest 'reasonable adjustments' to enable you to carry on working.
If your employer dismisses you before capability procedures or full and fair disciplinary action take place, you may have a claim for unfair dismissal.
How do I start my Long Covid claim?
To get your Covid claim underway or if you just want some more information, you can Talk to Thompsons in a variety of ways.
- Call us on 0800 0891 331
- Text CLAIM to 78866
- Fill in our online claim form
We are here to help and we only ever act for claimants, never the employers or the insurance companies.