Post covid syndrome advice for businesses and employers
The information on this page has been set-up to enable businesses and employers to support members of their workforce who are experiencing post Covid syndrome symptoms (sometimes referred to as long Covid).
It includes information on the types of symptoms your workforce may experience following COVID-19, and provides practical information to help them recover more quickly, and where to signpost them for support while they get back on their feet.
There is still quite a bit of stigma around post Covid syndrome symptoms, and this can leave those affected feeling very isolated. Anything you can do as employers to engage and support affected staff members will reduce the risk of this happening. Please be aware guidance around post Covid syndrome may change at a future date as further research is undertaken and our understanding about the virus and its long-term impact increases.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a highly contagious virus that mainly attacks the lungs. It is transmitted through droplets created from sneezing and coughing from those infected. The virus enters the body via the nose, mouth and eyes.
The most commonly reported symptoms of COVID-19 are:
- A new continuous cough
- A fever
- Muscle aches
- Shortness of breath when moving around
- Sputum production
- Loss of appetite/taste/smell
Some people may require hospitalisation to treat these symptoms.
The severity and duration of symptoms for people who have COVID-19 can vary.
For most people, symptoms last 7-14 days and will be very mild. To manage mild symptoms:
- Stay hydrated
- Take paracetamol if you have a temperature
- Get up and move about at regular intervals
If you need additional advice, visit the NHS 111 online service
How might a member of staff feel after having COVID-19?
Most infections with COVID-19 resolve within the first 4 weeks. Post Covid syndrome or “Long COVID” is an informal term that is commonly used to describe signs and symptoms that continue or develop after an acute infection of COVID-19.
Depending on how long someone has ongoing symptoms for, it can be called one of two things:
- Ongoing symptomatic COVID. This is where your symptoms continue for more than 4 weeks. If symptoms last for longer than 12 weeks, it will then be called;
- Post-COVID Syndrome. This is where ongoing symptoms continue for longer than 12 weeks and cannot be explained by any other condition.
Members of staff may find their symptoms last for weeks or possibly months, even if they had not been admitted to hospital or had severe COVID-19 symptoms. Around 35% of infected patients have stated they were experiencing “Long COVID” symptoms more than a year after their first suspected infection, and almost 65% said their symptoms limited their daily activities.
Symptoms of Long Covid can be many and varied and can change over time. The most commonly reported symptoms include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Chest tightness or pains
- Severe fatigue
- Cognitive impairment (‘brain fog’, loss of concentration or memory issues)
- Sleep disturbance
- Pins and needles or numbness
- Delirium (in older people)
- Abdominal pain
- Anorexia and reduced appetite (in older people)
- Weight loss
- Joint pain or muscle pain
- Sore throat
- Loss of taste and/or smell
- Skin rashes
As well as the physical symptoms listed above, it is very common to experience feelings of anxiety and depression. Some people who have had treatment in hospital may also experience anxiety or unpleasant memories about their stay.
The recovery time is different for everyone. The length of recovery is not necessarily related to the severity of the initial illness or whether someone was in hospital.
These symptoms might make it more difficult to do the things members of your workforce would normally do both at home and at work. You can support those affected by encouraging line managers to engage with staff members infected with COVID-19 on their return to work, even if they only reported mild symptoms.
We advise continuing to check in with affected staff members regularly as post Covid syndrome symptoms can deteriorate over time. If new or ongoing symptoms do occur and they are causing concern, it is always recommended someone seeks medical advice and support.
Loss of income
Members of staff who have been infected and unable to work may be concerned about loss of income. It is important to talk to them as soon as you are able to address these concerns and provide any reassurance you can about sick pay or Statutory Sick Pay. More information is available on the Gov.UK website.
How can you support affected members of your workforce when they return to work?
Recovering from Long COVID can be a lengthy process and your workforce will need to be supported to recover at their own pace. All line managers are therefore encouraged to read about the varying symptoms of Long COVID and acknowledge that this can affect colleagues in different ways.
Long COVID is considered an illness with a complex recovery (this can sometimes be referred to as a ‘non-linear recovery’), which means it is likely that relapses will occur. Some colleagues might return to work when feeling better or able to perform their duties, and shortly need to take time off again when symptoms return or affect their ability to work.
The recovery process will be different for each colleague, and therefore line managers are encouraged to support colleagues on a one-to-one basis, seeking to understand and respect their experience of Long COVID.
If you are supporting someone who has returned to work after taking time off due to Long COVID, we would encourage you to:
- For line managers or HR teams to advise staff who are off sick with COVID-19 on what sick pay or Statutory Sick Pay is available to them to ease any worries they may have as much as possible.
Line managers to discuss how affected members of their teams are feeling and any symptoms during return to work interview encouraging open and clear communication with your workforce at this stage can make the transition for them and the organisation simpler and quicker.
For any symptoms to be acknowledged and to discuss whether it would be helpful to consider any reasonable adjustments to their working pattern, for example asking if working flexibly would support them to adjust back into the workplace.
Offer regular health and wellbeing conversations to check in and see how colleagues are feeling and for line managers to engage with affected members of their team while they recover, and support this recovery as much as possible noting symptoms may improve or deteriorate over a period of time. More information about wellbeing conversations is available on the NHS England website
For line managers to refer affected employees to Occupational Health for support where appropriate or advise them where they can go to seek specialist help for their symptoms.
Share the link to this website with those affected by post Covid syndrome symptoms for advice about which local organisations are support their recovery.
What health and wellbeing support is available for those affected by Long COVID?
Anyone concerned that they might have Long COVID that is not improving as expected, should seek advice and support from their GP surgery. Their GP team will be able to assess them and may offer a range of tests that are tailored to their individual signs and symptoms. This will help to rule out acute or life-threatening complications and confirm if symptoms are likely to be caused by Long COVID or a new, unrelated diagnosis. If appropriate, they may refer them to a Post COVID service. NHFT is running the Post COVID service and is working in conjunction with system partners such as local GP Practices and hospitals to ensure patients are supported.
The NHS has a range of support offers and services available to support the public with their overall health and wellbeing, which includes support for those with the varying symptoms of Long COVID.
Supporting your team to reduce their risk of catching COVID-19
COVID-19 spreads from person to person through small droplets, aerosols and through direct contact. Surfaces and belongings can also be contaminated with COVID-19 when people with the infection cough or sneeze or touch them. The risk of spread is greatest when people are close to each other, especially in poorly ventilated indoor spaces and when people spend a lot of time together in the same room.
There are a number of steps your workforce can take to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 to begin with.
- Keeping distance
- Washing hands
- Good respiratory hygiene (using and disposing of tissues)
- Cleaning surfaces
- Keeping indoor spaces well ventilated (ventilation information available from the government website)
- People who have COVID-19 can infect others from around two days before symptoms start, and for up to 10 days after. They can pass the infection to others, even if they have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, which is why they must stay at home if they are infected.
There is now no legal requirement for adults to self-isolate if they have COVID-19 and support payments for people who would have previously self-isolated have also ended.
We can’t advise you how to conduct your business and you will understand what is best for your organisation but taking measures to encourage your workforce to test themselves regularly with LFD tests and having mechanisms in place to support them if they test positive for COVID-19, will help to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.
Evidence shows that people who are not vaccinated are up to eight times more likely to be hospitalised than those who are fully vaccinated. Vaccinations are critical to protect your workforce and others against COVID-19.
Data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) showed that two doses of the vaccine are not enough to stop people becoming unwell from Omicron, but a booster significantly increases protection against the variant.
All adults can now access their booster. Anyone who had their second dose at least three months ago can book an appointment via
A full list of drop-in sessions available around the county without an appointment can be found online