An engineer shows a plastic model of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

An engineer shows a plastic model of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Credit: AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Labor Department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Surgeon General are seeking input from the American public on how long-lasting COVID cases may be impacting their workplace.

The federal agencies announced Tuesday that they would be collecting online comments on the issue of long COVID, what challenges it presents to workers and employers, and possible ways to address them. 

Long COVID is a condition experienced by some who have contracted COVID-19 that can last for months. Symptoms can include shortness of breath, fatigue, brain fog, heart palpitations, headaches, anxiety and depression.

More than 40% of adults have caught COVID, and it’s estimated that 1 in 5 of those have experienced long COVID symptoms, according to CDC data.  As a result, nearly 1 out of every 10 U.S. adults may have experienced ongoing symptoms that might require work absences or other accommodations.

Grappling with the issue of long COVID presents a unique challenge for employers and employees, said Jessica M. Baquet, partner and labor attorney at Ruskin Moscou Faltischek in Uniondale.

When people are suffering from long COVID, "questions can arise as to whether that person is eligible for disability benefits and paid or unpaid leave,” Baquet said.

Because of the wide-ranging symptoms associated with long COVID, it’s difficult for employers to know if a worker is suffering from long COVID or another condition, and whether the employee should get  accommodations and access to certain aid, Baquet said. 

“When it comes to long COVID, what is going to be considered sufficient medical certification?” she said. “There’s this gap between the medical community’s opinion and the requirements of law.”

To submit comments regarding the impact of long COVID on the workplace, go to  https://longcovidatwork.ideascale.com/a/index

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