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Could long Covid impact your business?

New figures have revealed the impact that long Covid is having on Australian workplaces.

Treasury data given to News Corp papers show 12 per cent of the labour force is staying home sick because of the long term after effects of the virus. An estimated 31,000 Australian workers are calling in sick every day.

The same report also showed Australia lost three million working days in the first six months of 2022 due to the illness.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said Friday that Australia’s “labour market has been absolutely smashed by Covid, and Long Covid increasingly”.

“The thousands of workdays the economy is losing to Long Covid is just one part of a complex picture, and gives a sense of what we are all up against,” he said.

A comprehensive study published in the Lancet this month found that one in eight people who get Covid develop at least one long Covid symptom. The treasury analysis defined long Covid as someone experiencing symptoms four weeks or more after becoming infected.

Long Covid symptoms can include:

  • extreme fatigue (tiredness)
  • shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain or tightness
  • cough or hoarse voice
  • problems with memory and concentration
  • changes to taste and smell
  • joint and muscle pain
  • reduced appetite and weight loss
  • difficulty going about everyday activities, such as work or chores

To try and address the issue long-Covid clinics have been established in the ACT, NSW, South Australia and Victoria to help people recover from ongoing symptoms.

Diversity Council of Australia has a number of suggestions for employers supporting workers with long Covid to return to work. Modifications to workplace duties and hours that may facilitate a return to work and recovery at work plan include:

  • Alterations to timings and hours
  • Alterations to workload
  • Taking regular breaks
  • Additional support and supervision
  • Time off for healthcare appointments
  • Phased return to work and option for working from home
  • Equipment adjustments
  • Counselling

Need help with advice, policies or procedures to better manage these challenging times in your workplace? Bare Bones Consulting makes things simple. And we have the HR experience to deliver on the advice we provide. How much experience? Check it out here.

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Note: Bare Bones Consulting provides HR services for employers. Employees seeking advice on workplace concerns should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.