NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Labor Day marks the celebration and recognition of workers’ rights across the country, and this year workers now have even more rights when it comes to dealing with long-COVID complications in the workplace.
On the 31st Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, President Joe Biden announced the Act will now offer protections for certain workers experiencing long COVID symptoms.
“What we know from research is that with the right supports, a worker who has acquired a disability or a condition like long-COVID, they can stay on the job,” said Taryn Mackenzie Williams, Assistant Secretary of the Office of Disability Employment Policy under the U.S. Department of Labor.
When it comes to looking into these benefits, the Office of Disability Employment says the first step is speaking with your doctor to diagnose your long-COVID, as employers can ask for medical documentation.
“It would be at that point that they should engage in an interactive process to figure out does that person have a disability within the meaning of the ADA, and from there can we provide what would be reasonable accommodations, those adjustments that are going to enable someone to continue working,” said Tracie DeFreitas, principal consultant with the Job Accommodation Network.
Long-COVID symptoms can range from fatigue, to brain fog, to physical limitations, so appropriate accommodations can vary.
“So it could be a variety of things, anything from the ability to work from home, the option to take additional breaks if needed. It might be having some uninterrupted work time so focus is a little bit easier,” DeFreitas said.
At the end of the day, the Department of Labor says making reasonable adjustments for employees with long-COVID is essential to keeping our workforce alive.
“With those right supports, with accommodation they can stay connected to their workforce and they can continue to be successful in their roles. So there really is an incentive for both employers and for the employees to work together to ensure that they can keep their job,” said Williams.
For more information and resources, visit the Job Accomodation Network here.