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05 April 2023

All about Covid-19

Our Covid-19 guidance provides information on the symptoms of Covid-19, what you should do if you have it and the support you should expect from your employer if you have Long Covid.

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What you need to know

In this section you can find out more about Covid-19, the symptoms, the support you should expect from your employer and more about Long Covid.

What is covid-19 (coronavirus)?

Covid-19 is an infectious disease caused by a coronavirus illness first discovered at the end of 2019. There have been several variants of Covid-19, and guidance has changed throughout. We're now being asked to live with the virus, and there are few restrictions in place around the world. Research continues to understand Covid-19 and its lasting effects.

The virus can spread fast, and some people may not have any symptoms of it and spread it without knowledge. It's spread through the air, from coughs and sneezes but also from small particles that can be exhaled as we breathe.

Even if you've had several vaccinations, it's possible to catch Covid-19. We're now expected to live with Covid-19 and there are no specific measures in place in general day-to-day life.

However, there are still important steps we should take to keep ourselves and others well - and this applies to general colds and other bugs as well as Covid-19:

What are the symptoms?

What are the symptoms?

Covid-19 can cause a wide range of symptoms; however, these are the three main symptoms recognised by the NHS:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

Approximately 1 in 3 people who have coronavirus have no symptoms and could be spreading it without realising it.

Additional symptoms that people may experience are:

  • fatigue
  • muscle aches & all over body aches
  • headache
  • nasal congestion
  • shortness of breath
  • loss of appetite
  • sore throat
  • running nose
  • diarrhoea
  • nausea
  • vomiting

The symptoms are very similar to symptoms of other illnesses, such as colds and flu.

What to do if you have symptoms

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap, especially after using toilets and shared facilities - it's simply good practice.
  • Try to limit your contact with others. We no longer need to wear face masks, but when indoors or in crowded places it can still be a sensible step to take. Even if you've just got a cold and not Covid-19, it doesn't mean it's ok to spread it if you can avoid doing so.
  • You should consider remaining off work until you're well again. Most people want to avoid getting ill.
  • It's still good practice to get yourself vaccinated where you can. If you're eligible for boosters, get your shot booked in. Likewise, if you're eligible for a flu shot, it's worth having this to guard against illness. Some employers offer vouchers for vaccinations as it's a win-win benefit for you and them.
  • The NHS recommends you avoid contact with other people for 5 days where possible, and to avoid contact with anyone that is immunosupressed for 10 days.

If you need medical advice

Get help at:

Call 111 if you cannot get help online. 

What to do if you have symptoms

What to do if you have symptoms

There are no specific requirements now that Covid is being managed in the same way as other illnesses, but the Government has provided some general guidance.

You may be able to look after yourself at home if you have COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19, so try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people if you or your child have symptoms and either:

  • have a high temperature
  • do not feel well enough to go to work, school, childcare, or do your normal activities

You can go back to your normal activities when you feel better or do not have a high temperature.

If your child has mild symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat or mild cough, and they feel well enough, they can go to school or childcare.

What to do if you have tested positive

What to do if you have tested positive

You are no longer required to take a Covid-19 rapid lateral flow test if you have symptoms.

But if you or your child have tested positive for COVID-19:

  • try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 3 days after the day you took your test if you are under 18 years old
  • try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 5 days after the day you took your test if you are 18 years old or over
  • avoid meeting people who are more likely to get seriously ill from viruses, such as people with a weakened immune system, for 10 days after the day you took your test

About Long Covid

About Long Covid

While lots of people will recover from Covid-19 quickly and without long-term effects, Long Covid - also known as post-Covid syndrome - can continue to affect people's physical and mental health long after. Around 10% of people will have some symptoms lasting beyond three weeks, and some people remain affected beyond 12 weeks.

Some of the main symptoms of long Covid include:

  • Extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • Brain fog or problems with concentration
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Loss of smell
  • Muscle aches
  • Depression & anxiety

But there are many more, and they can fluctuate from day to day. A recent TUC study looking at the experience of workers with long Covid shows the variety of symptoms experienced:

Graph of symptoms of Long Covid
TUC Long Covid - March 2023

How long does it last?

There is no set recovery period, and everyone's recovery will be different. Some people will continue to experience symptoms for weeks and months, which is why it's important that employers are supportive while someone goes through treatment.

The NHS has set up a Covid recovery site which can help you find support from medical professionals as well as some self-help recovery tips. 

We've got a list of Long Covid support information later in this guidance, including the support you should expect from your employer to support you returning or remaining at work.

Your Covid Recovery

Further reading

Here are some links to further reading providing general information on Covid-19.

Available support

Keeping you healthy and safe at work is a top priority and never more important as we navigate our way through the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Most Covid-19 activities have wound down as we're learning to live with the virus. But we continue to monitor the situation and talk with the main employers we work with about all aspects of health & safety on a regular basis. 

If there are aspects of your workplace environment that concern you, or if you're worried for your safety, please call our helpline on 0118 934 1808. We have a team of officers ready, willing, and able to advise and support you.

Getting support from Accord

Get support from Accord

We're able to help you navigate your employers' policies in relation to sickness, absence, and ill-health. We'll keep members up to date through our regular communications, so if anything changes in future about Covid support we'll let you know.

Support & contacts

Support & contacts

Don't forget that there are sources of support available to you, whether you need help with Covid, Long Covid or anything else:

Mental health support

Has Covid affected you or your family? Reach out for support, or just to talk things through:

MHFA Badge

And remember, if you’re an Accord member and need a chat about support at work, call the helpline on 0118 934 1808.

Find more mental health related articles on our website.

Long Covid support

Long Covid support

Everyone's Covid recovery is different, but it is important to seek the right support to help your recovery journey. The good news is that there's now a wealth of support available to help you get back to your usual activities.

Medical support

Support from your employer

We expect employers to support colleagues with their recovery from Covid, and that includes making reasonable adjustments to support you returning or remaining at work. Here are some of the things your employer should be able to do for you:

  • A change to your working hours or pattern to facilitate your recovery. This could include changing the days you work to ensure you get sufficient rest periods or giving you the time off that you need to access recovery support.
  • Flexible working arrangements built around when you're at your best because we know the symptoms of Long Covid can fluctuate. This could include changing your hours to accommodate starting later or finishing earlier or having a longer rest break in the middle of the day.
  • Authorising requests to work from home, or to work from a location closer to home to aid your recovery.
  • An adjustment to your work duties or tasks. Having tasks that you are less intensive or can easily be paused is especially helpful when you're coping with concentration issues or brain fog.
  • Extra break time can help give your brain a reset between tasks.
  • Specialist workplace adjustment assessments and Occupational Health reports can help both you and your employer in working out what support is relevant and helpful for your circumstances.

The TUC has produced an interactive guide for union reps to help support members - particularly those who have had long COVID and are unsure about their rights or are facing issues with their employer. 

Domestic abuse

Domestic abuse

While isolation may be over as we've learned to live with Covid-19, for those experiencing abuse the prospect of continued home working can be frightening. The employers we work with recognise this and if you're working from home but experiencing abuse, we'd recommend talking to your employer about returning to an office environment or getting help to access support services.

There are many sources of support available to you:

Specialist services

Other sources of support

Other sources of support

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