Long COVID can be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Information provided by the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), a service provided through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, offers guidance on how employees can offer on-the-job accommodations to workers affected by long COVID.
Employees who have recovered from COVID-19 may have long-term limitations, such as shortness of breath with exertion, extreme fatigue, brain fog, insomnia, tachycardia, joint pain/body aches, and headaches, according to the JAN.
Suggested accommodations include restructuring the job, allowing rest breaks, and providing a quiet workspace. Consider also whether allowing flexible schedules, telework, and leave for treatment can be accommodated within the job.
In a recent webinar JAN hosted, employers were advised that long COVID can take a long time to diagnose, even after an employee starts receiving treatment for their symptoms.
Employers should focus on whether reasonable accommodations can be made, rather than getting “bogged down” in determining whether the employee has a disability. An employee does not need an official diagnosis to request accommodations. Rather, a health care provider can document that the person has an impairment that affects the person’s daily activities.
Likewise, avoid trying to implement a one-size-fits-all solution. Accommodations need to be made on a case-by-case basis. Additional tips are available online at askjan.org.