“Long COVID” and your business
In the coming months, hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders will be diagnosed with ‘long COVID’ — and that means major chaos for workplaces is on the way.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) explains long COVID is a condition where people experience symptoms three months after their initial infection including shortness of breath, fatigue, fever, headaches, brain fog, and other neurological problems.
It’s affecting about 5% of those who are diagnosed with the virus. Add to that the fact Omicron’s fourth wave is projected to get a lot worse before it gets better, as the newer BA.4 and BA.5 variants better evade immunity from previous infection and vaccination.
So how to prepare your business for a health crisis?
“We’re headed for a big wave of infections in the coming weeks,” says HR expert Marilyn Walker. “Employers need to be strategic and work through contingencies as cases increase, or else you’ll increase the risk of your entire staff getting infected.”
In addition, Marilyn says you need to take advantage of the free RAT tests and masks offered by the government, to ensure that you’re on top of infection rates among your staff.
And while official ‘Long COVID’ leave is yet to be approved by the government, Marilyn encourages business owners to be as accommodating as possible with their staff.
“Be as flexible as you can,” she advises. “Not offering as much leave and flexibility as possible can make lead to staff hiding symptoms, or leaving the workplace altogether if they don’t feel supported.”