Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: 

“The pandemic is far from over, but even when its impact finally begins to lessen, in respect of absence and disruption, the legacy of Long Covid will remain.

“The ONS Long Covid report published on 3 March 2022 highlights that in terms of occupations, prevalence of self-reported Long Covid was highest among those working in teaching and education, followed by social care and health care, reflecting increased exposure to Covid in these sectors. This report will come as no surprise to education staff, many of whom will have contracted the virus when at work.  

“Employers owe these staff a duty of care. There is also a moral imperative to manage those health issues in a fair, sympathetic and supportive manner.  This means as a minimum:

  • Recognising the difficulty in some cases of getting a formal Long Covid diagnosis; 
  • Not imposing sanctions as a result of absence monitoring procedures; 
  • Offering paid disability leave, where appropriate; 
  • Following GP and occupational health recommendations; 
  • Offering paid time off for medical appointments and treatments;  
  • Adopting robust individual health and safety risk assessments; and 
  • Putting in place reasonable adjustments to help facilitate a sustainable return to work.” 


Note to editors

We are currently in Bournemouth for our Annual Conference (11-14 April), during which time you will receive a higher number of press releases than usual.  

The Conference Press Office can be reached on 07879 480 061. You can also email the press officer at  

Our conference agenda is available here

The hashtag for Annual Conference is #NEU2022 

  • The National Education Union stands up for the future of education. It brings together the voices of more than 450,000 teachers, lecturers, support staff and leaders working in maintained and independent schools and colleges across the UK, to form the largest education union in Europe. 
  • It is an independent, registered trade union and professional association, representing its members in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. 

The National Education Union is affiliated to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) and Education International (EI). It is not affiliated to any political party and seeks to work constructively with all the main political parties.