The decision in the employment tribunal case of Burke v Turning Point Scotland is one of the first in the UK to address specific facts and has found that the long Covid symptoms suffered by Mr Burke amounted to a disability.
Although Burke’s symptoms fluctuated, the tribunal held that he suffered from the physical impairment of post-viral fatigue syndrome caused by Covid-19 and that he continued to suffer with this physical impairment at the date of his dismissal in August 2021.
The tribunal held that this was a physical impairment which had an adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities; that it was substantial (in that it was more than minor) and long-term. Accordingly, the tribunal was convinced that Burke’s long Covid amounted to a disability under the Equality Act. As his sick pay entitlement ended in June 2021, the tribunal found that there was no incentive for him to still be off work beyond this point.
Although each case will turn on its own facts it is likely that other employees in similar situations will be able to persuade a tribunal that their long Covid amounts to a disability, especially as the symptoms suffered by Burke are common among long Covid sufferers.