16 Aug 2022
Ministers should urgently classify COVID-19 as an occupational disease to prompt employers to reduce the risk of exposure and help workers access key benefits, according to a report by the Trades Union Congress (TUC).
The UK is out of step with other major countries that have recognised COVID as a disease that people can get in the course of their work, especially in certain sectors, the TUC said.
If the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) 'prescribed' COVID it would be treated the same as, for example, a disease related to workplace exposure such as asbestos-related cancer, which is a known risk for people who have worked in construction or firefighting.
In its report, the TUC states: 'There are more than 70 prescribed 'occupational' diseases known to be a risk from certain jobs. These diseases arise as a result of employment requiring close contact with a hazardous substance or circumstance.'
Someone whose diagnosis has been linked to their job is able to claim financial support.
Frances O'Grady, the TUC's General Secretary, said: 'If you become sick due to your work, with life-changing consequences, you should get proper support. But ministers have still not added COVID to the list of occupational diseases. And it leaves workers unfairly exposed.'