NEARLY two thirds of people with long Covid in Scotland say they have experienced unfair treatment at work as a result of the condition.

Research carried out by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) - which included a breakdown for Scottish workers - found issues with sick leave, scepticism by employers, or a lack of reasonable adjustments to make it easier for people to remain in their jobs.

Roz Foyer, general secretary of the Scottish TUC, said the findings were "alarming" and expose "the chronic lack of support for those living with long Covid".

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It comes days after a study by Edinburgh University estimated that one in 50 people in Scotland have suffered from lasting illness following a Covid infection.

Persistent and debilitating symptoms can include muscle aches, joint pain, brain fog, extreme fatigue, and gastrointestinal problems.

READ MORE: Long Covid 'not main cause' of shrinking Scots labour market 

According to the response from 340 Scots workers with long Covid, 63 per cent said they had been discriminated against at work.

One in five respondents said an employer had questioned whether they have the condition, or cast doubt on the impact of their symptoms, with the same proportion saying they worry that long Covid has reduced their chances of promotion.

Nearly one in three (29%) said the amount of sick leave they have taken has triggered absence management or HR processes, while half (48%) say they have not been given any of the reasonable adjustments required to cope with their job.

This could include permanent home working, more breaks, or physical changes to the workplace.

More than half (53%) were using savings to support themselves.

The Herald:

Ms Foyer added: “This is just the tip of the iceberg. We know fine well that workers are being dismissed from their jobs due to the lack of support offered by workplaces for those living with long Covid.

“It would be an appalling slight on sufferers, many of whom are the key workers who got us through the pandemic, if the new First Minister continues to ignore their voices.

"We need clear, coordinated support funded by the Scottish Government, putting the onus on employers to stand by their workers living with this disease.

"That includes offering reasonable adjustments to working patterns, routines, spaces and schedules that can put the recovery of survivors first and foremost. Workers deserve nothing less."

READ MORE: Dundee long Covid clinic 'utterly overwhelmed' by demand 

The findings for Scotland correspond to many of the results UK-wide.

In the TUC survey - which had 3000 respondents with long Covid - 66% said they had faced unfair treatment in the workplace, including bullying.

One in seven (14%) said they had lost their job due to reasons connected with their health.

One in 16 (6%) say they are using food banks.

TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak said Covid-19 should be designated as an occupational disease.

He added: "That would allow workers who contracted Covid-19 at work and are living with the consequences to claim the compensation they are due.

“And employers must play their part, by making sure their staff with long Covid get the reasonable adjustments they need."

During a recent evidence session at the Scottish Parliament's Covid Recovery Committee, MSPs were told by charities and clinicians that they fear patients are no longer coming forward because there is "nothing on the NHS" to help them.

In contrast, a GP who runs a private long Covid clinic in Dundee said she was "utterly overwhelmed" by demand.

Jane Ormerod, chair of Long Covid Scotland, which advocates for patients, said its members had also reported experiencing workplace discrimination - including losing jobs.

READ MORE: Long Covid sufferer so exhausted she struggles to 'lift a cup of tea' some days

She added that others who tried to return to work had faced obstacles such as being refused the option to work from home; extended breaks; disabled or accessible parking; or switching to different duties.

Ms Ormerod said: "The impact of Covid and increasing cases of long Covid will continue to affect society for the foreseeable future.

"For those with Long Covid unable to work and contending with what seems to be a chronic illness impacts on both physical and mental health.

"Pushing through symptoms to attempt a return to work before being truly able to also has adverse effects on physical and mental health.

"In our survey the majority of those working stated that they had little quality of life as time outside of work was spent resting or sleeping.

"Being back at work has generally caused worsening symptoms, and aggravated fatigue, leading to exhaustion."

The Herald:

Lesley MacNiven, a founding member of Long Covid Scotland who also chairs the UK-wide Long Covid Support - an employment group - said the latest findings indicate that discrimination is worsening.

She added: "These most recent figures are significant increase on the percentages seen in the June 2021 report by the TUC and Long Covid Support in relation to discrimination rate of job loss and other factors.

"It is clear that the size of the Long Covid population has also roughly doubled in the time between the two reports.

"The aim of this very detailed report is to lay bare the scale of loss, at least some of which was preventable with action to treat those living with Long Covid in Scotland and clear guidance to employers."