Having epilepsy does not necessarily stop someone from doing the job they want, but there are some issues which can affect them at work.
Whether someone’s epilepsy affects their work depends on whether they have seizures, what their seizures are like and how often these happen. It also depends on the type of work they do, and any risks that having seizures at work might bring.
Two important laws that apply to employment are the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Equality Act 2010.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 says that employers are responsible for making sure that all their employees are safe at work and are protected from possible dangers to their health. This includes making sure that the job and the work environment are safe and has no health risks. Employees are also responsible for their own safety at work, and the safety of their work colleagues.
If you have seizures, you may not be able to do jobs that risk your safety or the safety of other people. As with anybody, the type of work you can do depends on your skills, qualifications and experience. It may also depend on how your epilepsy affects you.
Could I lose my job?
If you are already in a job and you develop epilepsy or if your epilepsy changes and starts to cause problems at work, you might be worried about losing your job.
The Equality Act aims to make sure that people with a disability are not treated unfairly compared to a person without a disability, because of their disability and without a good reason. Under the Equality Act, your employer is expected to make reasonable adjustments so that you can carry on working. If you cannot continue in your role due to your epilepsy, your employer should consider if you could be moved to another role.
If you develop epilepsy or if your seizures are difficult to control, your doctor may refer you to a specialist to review your epilepsy. The review may help you to make decisions about your job. For example, it may help to identify reasonable adjustments for you. Some adjustments may be temporary while your epilepsy is being reviewed or treated, and some adjustments may need to change over time.
One of the key points to remember about epilepsy is that it varies from person to person. While some people have regular seizures, up to 70% of people with epilepsy could stop having seizures (with the right medication) so their epilepsy may have little or no effect on their work.
Who can I talk to?
You may want to talk to your line manager or to someone in your personnel or human resources department, if you have one, about how you are feeling. Talking about any problems or concerns you have might help them to support you or to look for reasonable adjustments that would help you.
Taken from our employment leaflet.
Information produced: May 2021
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 says that employers are responsible for making sure that all their employees are safe at work and are protected from possible dangers to their health.
The Equality Act 2010 came into effect in October 2010. It replaced nine previous laws that aimed to protect people against discrimination, including the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA).
You can look for a job through your local Jobcentre Plus office, personal contacts, newspapers and websites adverts or employment agencies.
Jobcentre Plus offices have Disability Employment Advisers (DEAs) who provide support to people with disabilities. They may be able to help with assessments, referral to schemes for people with disabilities (such as Work Choice), job matching and information on employers who are positive about employing people with disabilities.
Employers cannot legally refuse to give you a job just because you have epilepsy. However, they need to consider your epilepsy, and what the job involves, to ensure your safety and that of other employees.
Some people worry that telling an employer about their epilepsy might affect their chance of getting a job or being treated fairly at work. Although discrimination can happen, the Equality Act 2010 aims to protect you from discrimination, and help your employer to treat you fairly and support you at work. Having the right information about your epilepsy can help employers to do this.
When employing someone with epilepsy, it is important to consider their individual situation, and base any decisions on fact. This means looking at their epilepsy and the effect it might have on their work. Talking to them about what their epilepsy is really like, and how it might affect their work, is more helpful than making assumptions about how it affects them.