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Epilepsy, employment and the law

The information in this section is about epilepsy and working in the UK. If you live outside the UK, you can find out about working and epilepsy in your country by contacting your local epilepsy group

UK laws that can help you in the workplace because you have epilepsy

If you have epilepsy and want to work, it is important to know about the equality laws. If you live in England, Scotland and Wales, you are covered by the Equality Act. If you live in Northern Ireland, you are covered by the Disability Discrimination Act.

The equality laws mean that employers must not treat you unfairly because of your epilepsy. They must protect you from bullying or harassment related to your epilepsy from other employees. And they must make any reasonable adjustments they can to help you into, or to stay in, work.

 The equality laws cover everything to do with work, including the following.

  • Job adverts
  • Application forms
  • Interviews
  • Job offers
  • Conditions of employment
  • Training
  • Promotions
  • Dismissal
  • Redundancy

Reasonable adjustments

The equality laws mean that employers have to make changes or adjustments to help you, if it is reasonable for them to do so. This is to make sure that you are not at a disadvantage compared to someone without epilepsy.

Here are some examples of adjustments that it may be reasonable for an employer to make.

When you are looking for work
If you usually have seizures first thing in the morning, an employer could arrange for you to have a job interview in the afternoon.

When you are in work
You might need to take time off work for medical appointments for your epilepsy. You might also have sick days because of your epilepsy. Your employer could choose to record and consider these separately to time you take off for other reasons. By doing this, the time that you take off work because of your epilepsy would not have a negative effect on your work sickness record.

For some people, tiredness or not getting enough sleep triggers their seizures. Some people find that rotating shift patterns make seizures more likely. If your seizures are triggered in this way, your employer may be able to ensure you work regular shifts.

Sometimes, an employer might have to pay for reasonable adjustments to be made to help you. They must not ask you to pay towards this.

If your employer doesn’t make reasonable adjustments to help you, this could be illegal. But sometimes it might not be possible to make any adjustments that would make a job safe for you if you have uncontrolled seizures. In this case, it would be legal for the employer to not employ you because of your epilepsy.

Here are some examples of jobs that would be difficult to make safe for you, if you have uncontrolled seizures:

  • Working at unprotected heights (for example as a scaffolder)
  • Working near open water
  • Working with high voltage or open circuit electricity
  • Working on or near moving vehicles
  • Working with unguarded fires, ovens and hot plates

Reasons why an employer might not employ you because you have epilepsy

Employers should not use your epilepsy as a reason not to give you a job, unless they have very good reasons. Here are some of those possible reasons.

Health and safety - An employer can legally refuse to give you a job if your epilepsy poses a health and safety risk to you or somebody else. For example, if you have seizures, they could refuse to employ you in a job where you have to climb up ladders.

Driving - An employer can refuse to give you a driving job, if you don’t hold the right type of driving licence. For example, if you have had seizures in the last ten years, legally you are not allowed to hold a driving licence that allows you to drive heavy goods vehicles. So, an employer can refuse to employ you as a lorry driver.

Armed Forces - Jobs in the Armed Forces are not covered by the equality laws. So the Armed Forces can refuse to employ you because you have epilepsy or a history of epilepsy.

Unreasonable adjustments - If there are no reasonable adjustments that can be made to make a job safe for you, an employer can refuse to give you the job.

Things you can do if you feel you are being treated unfairly at work

Talk to people
Talk to the people involved. This might be your colleague, your line manager or your employer. If you’re a member of a union, you could ask them to support you when you are talking to them. If you’re not a member of a union, you could ask to bring a colleague or friend with you to meetings discussing your work situation.

Keep notes
Keep notes of any actions, or comments made, that you are concerned about. Also, keep a note of attempts you have made to try and sort the situation out. This can be useful information if you later decide to take more formal action, such as raising a grievance or getting legal advice.

Know your rights

Check your contract, in particular the terms and conditions and the grievance procedure.

If your employer wants information from your doctor, they can only get this with your consent. They should only ask for information that is relevant to your epilepsy.

Get legal advice
If you want to make a legal complaint about unfair treatment by your employer, you need to seek legal advice as soon as possible. This is because there are strict time limits for bringing cases to Employment Tribunals and courts.

Taking legal action against someone who has treated you unfairly at work

Taking legal action can be very expensive. Depending on your financial circumstances and the issues involved, you may be eligible for the Legal Aid scheme. This can cover some, or all, of the costs.

 If you decide to employ a solicitor, it is important to check at the beginning how they will expect to be paid. You should also check that they have a contract to provide advice and representation through the Legal Aid scheme, if you qualify for it. 

Epilepsy Action has more information on the Equality Act

Epilepsy in the workplace - a TUC Guide

Epilepsy Action has worked have worked in partnership with the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to produce Epilepsy in the workplace – a TUC guide. This is to make sure their union representatives have an awareness of epilepsy, and the knowledge to advise people with epilepsy at work. The guide includes suggestions for making reasonable adjustments, if any are needed.


If you would like to see this information with references, visit the Advice and Information references section of our website. See Work and epilepsy. 

Pay it forward

This resource is freely available as part of Epilepsy Action’s commitment to improving life for all those affected by epilepsy.

On average it costs £414 to produce an advice and information page – if you have valued using this resource, please text FUTURE to 70500 to donate £3 towards the cost of our future work. Terms and conditions. Thank you

We can provide references and information on the source material we use to write our epilepsy advice and information pages. Please contact our Epilepsy Helpline by email at helpline@epilepsy.org.uk.

Epilepsy Action would like to thank Epilepsy Action would like to thank Professor Sayeed Khan, Specialist in Occupational Medicine, Chief Medical Adviser to EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation and Judith Hogarth, Solicitor, Excello Law, for their contribution.

This information has been produced under the terms of The Information Standard.

  • Updated November 2013
    To be reviewed November 2016

Comments: read the 28 comments or add yours


Is it reasonable for an employer to require a full driving license for a post that most would consider to be a desk job?

Submitted by Rachel on

Hi Rachel

Thank you for your question.

Employers can not insist on a driving licence unless it is essential to the job. If they do, this would be discrimination under the Equality Laws.

The equality laws mean that employers must not treat you unfairly because of your epilepsy. And they must make any reasonable adjustments they can to help you into work with them.

 The equality laws cover everything to do with work, including the following.

  • Job adverts
  • Application forms
  • Interviews
  • Job offers

There are many times people find alternative ways of getting around when needed for their job.

If someone is able to get around by bus or train they can use their discount fare pass, so usually there is no added cost. Some people may be able to cycle (we are aware of carers in the community cycling to their clients). 

If public transport isn’t an option, for example you may need to travel to remote locations, some people can get help through Access to Work. Access to work can help with travel to and from work, and also travelling while at work if someone is not able to drive due to their epilepsy. More information about Access to Work is available from gov.uk

Websites: gov.uk/access-to-work (for England, Scotland or Wales); nidirect.gov.uk (for Northern Ireland).

It does sound like this company’s application procedure is not fair. For guidance on how to take this further may I suggest you contact Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS)? EASS provides information advice and support on discrimination and human rights issues to individuals in England, Scotland and Wales. Their phone number is 0808 800 0082.

I hope this is of help. If we can be of any more help, please feel free to contact us again, either by email or the Epilepsy Helpline freephone 0808 800 5050. I’d also like to hear how you get on.


Diane Wallace

Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Diane-Epilepsy ... on

I have been working for my company for over 7 years. I suffer with epilepsy for almost 5 years. So far work have been very flexible and helpful for me.
I am on a management level and recently I asked to step dawn from this role as I couldn't manage the stress which resulted in many fits.
I was told I can step dawn but I can't stay on the same department.
I work for a massive company with over 5000 employees, and over 10 different departments.
I was offered to go to a department with shift 6:00- 14:30, where everyone is aware that I can not do mornings because the most risks for me having fits is the morning. I had to refuse this and was told that if they won't find a space for me I might have to leave.
The company have over 5000 employers and it's working 24hrs. How is it possible they can not find me a place to accommodate my needs?
Are they in right to let me go?
Please help...

Submitted by Mike on

Hi Mike

Due to your epilepsy you are covered by the Equality Laws. This means your employer must not discriminate against you or treat you any less favourably than other employees.  

When your employer looked at your present position, their decision on not being able to make reasonable adjustments had to be justified. For example, it would be reasonable for them to allow you to alter some of your duties.

If with reasonable adjustments you are unable to keep in your present position, it would be reasonable for your employer to offer you a more suitable job role.

If moving to another role within the company is the only option, they must help you with this move.  If a role isn’t ideal for you, again they need to see if they can do reasonable adjustment to make it work for you and for them.

It would not be discrimination if they can not find you another role within the company, as long as they have done their best to help you find one. But again, they must be able to explain the help and support they gave you, and explain any decisions they made.

If you feel you are being discriminated against because of your epilepsy, talk it over with your manager or someone with a responsibility for human resources. If you belong to a union, you may want to contact them for help. There are also some organisations that may be able to offer you advice and support. These include:

I hope things work out well at work. If we can be of any more help, please feel free to contact us again, either by email helpline@epilepsy.org.uk or the Epilepsy Helpline freephone 0808 800 5050.


Diane Wallace

Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Diane-Epilepsy ... on

My situation is technically related to the problem I have found myself in at university but this may be the most relevant forum.
I have primary generalised epilepsy which is triggered by stress and tiredness, but is typically very well managed. The university are aware that these factors contribute to my seizures and I have a disability profile.
I am studying occupational therapy and was put on triage ward in acute mental health setting for my final placement. I was concerned that due to the volatile nature of the setting that the stress I was feeling as a result of some of the aggressive patients; that enduring this for 8 weeks would cause me to have a seizure. I therefore asked my educators (the OTs on placement) if I could move on to the treatment wards which I found less stressful. One of my educators was VERY unsupportive from the beginning about my epilepsy, asking whether she should put me in a taxi if i had a fit on placement (I have tonic clonic seizures!). She is also the service manager and told me that I could not go on to treatment wards because of staffing. The university were called in and it was agreed that I would be escorted on triage until I became used to the environment (the service manager was not present at the time). As I knew I had to catch up to impress my educator I was working 10 hour days and 3 hours commute, and at half way point when the tutors revisited, I was informed that I was failing due to lack of empathy and being judgemental and stereotypical. As a result, I decided to withdraw but when attempting to discuss my educators if there was away around to bring up my grade I was told I could leave.
The university are refusing to acknowledge that there was discrimination going on in the placement and keep telling me that I am unwell and need to get a letter from my gp saying I am 'well' to go on placement again. However, the disability service, my gp and the uni counselling service have all confirmed that I am fine and not unwell to begin with, and that I was using stress management techniques from the beginning.
The Student Union have been quite useless, as I went to see them about finance and housing. I was reaching the end of my tenancy as I was 4.5 weeks off finishing my 2 years masters. Fortunately my estate agent worked wonders and I can stay in my current property. Although I don't pay tuition, I have worked out that due to rent (I am in London) and loss of earnings as a result of not being able to get a job, it is going to cost me about £13,000 and all I was trying to do was prevent myself from having a seizure. I would like to take legal action, but I am concerned that there is a lack of witnessed evidence, especially against the placement. I feel I have been backed into a bit of a corner, and I am looking at other jobs now and contemplating dropping out because no one will listen. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!

Submitted by Chantelle on

Hi Chantelle

Thanks for contacting us. This does sound like a very difficult position to be in. The best thing to do would be to contact the Disabled Students Helpline on 0800 328 5050 or students@disabilityrightsuk.org. More information is at disabilityrightsuk.org. For legal advice you can you could visit one of the several walk-in centres of the Law Centres Network, of which there are several in London. The Equality Advisory and Support Service can also help you understand how the equality laws may apply to your situation. Their helpline number is 0808 800 0082.

Epilepsy Action Advice & Information Team

Submitted by Sacha@Epilepsy ... on

I recently have been diagnosed with epilepsy , I told my employer straight away that I was having test and about the result , I have only been with the company 2 months but I had a seizure at work and took 2 days off following this because I felt awful , now my boss wants to see me and I am worried I won't have a job . I work in a nursing home so I am aware of the risks but she did a risk assessment a couple of weeks ago prior to my having a seizure at work , can she sack me ?

Submitted by Kirsten on

Hi Kirsten

Here is all our information about work. Because you have epilepsy you are covered by the Equality Act. If your employer knows you have epilepsy, they have to do a risk assessment. If any risks are identified, they then need to consider any possible reasonable adjustments.

A risk assessment is only as good as the day it is done. So as you have now had a seizure at work, they will need to re-assess the level of risk to you and the people around you at work.

The time while you are getting a diagnosis and going on epilepsy medicine hold more risks, This is because it is more likely you will have further seizures before you get to a level of the right epilepsy medicine which will work for you.

Hopefully your employer will be able to adjust your work until it looks more likely that you will be seizure-free. If they really cannot find any way of adjusting your work to deal with the risks, then it is legal for them to let go of you. But they would need to be really clear that they had considered all possible options. And you may want to think about any suggestion you could make of ways they could make reasonable adjustments too. Make sure you keep a note of everything that is said to you.

If you think your employer is not behaving fairly, the first thing to do is to look at the terms and conditions of your contract. This will give you information about how to take out a grievance procedure.

For more information about employment rights, contact ACAS. For more information about possible disability discrimination, contact the Equality Advisory Support Service. We also have links to other useful sources of information and advice.

I really hope this information is useful to you. But if we can be of any more help, please feel free to contact us again, either by email or the Epilepsy Helpline freephone 0808 800 5050.

Yours sincerely


Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Cherry-Epilepsy... on

I have been having seizures since i was 17 yrs old and was diagnosed and put on medication at 20yrs old. After 2yrs i became seizure free. After i while i came off my medication as i was trying for a baby. I have recently had to stop trying for a baby and go back on medication as i have started having seizures again but unlike before (having them in my sleep)i have started having seizures first thing on a morning too. Needless to say i have had alot of sick days off work due to this and im worried about losing my job. In the past 2 months i have had quite alot of unconsecutive days off due to seizures and headaches and dizzyness as my employer says i cant work when im feeling dizzy. I have also just finished a 2wk sicknote and i am going back to the doctors as i am still suffering with strong headaches and dizzyness. I was asked to leave my last job because of this and i dont how i wlll pay my rent and bills if i have to leave this one or if i get made redundent or worse still sacked. All advise welcome thank you

Submitted by chelsea on

Hi Chelsea

It must be disappointing that your seizures have started again and you’ve had to put trying for a baby on hold.

I hope your doctors are able to get your seizures back under control. If you do have to go back on epilepsy medicine you could still try for a baby. But you should ask for pre-conception counselling. The aim of this is to make your future pregnancies as healthy as possible. It is also a chance to talk about any risks that your epilepsy or epilepsy medicine may pose to any future babies. (Some epilepsy medicines, taken at low doses, carry very little extra risk. Other epilepsy medicines carry a higher risk.)

It must also be a stressful time due to your work situation. The Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) suggests companies record sick leave due to a disability separately and look at it separately from general sick leave. If they don’t, it could be seen as indirect discrimination and/or discrimination arising from a disability. Here is a link to the fact sheet on Flexible working and time off for employers produced by the Equality and Human Rights commission – this is found within the Equality Act starter kit.

It’s advisable for you to look at your terms and condition of employment, which will explain the company’s policy for sick leave. Ideally, your employer should be meeting with you to see if there is anything they can do the help. For example, could altering your hours or some of your duties help? If you don’t need to go home after every seizure, is there somewhere for you to rest until you are ready to return to work? If you haven’t already, you may wish to view our information on work. There is information on Risk assessments and Staying in work that I hope you will find helpful.

If your employer has tried to be more flexible to accommodate your epilepsy related absence and there is still a problem please contact EASS for advice on your rights at work due to the Equality Laws. You can also contact our helpline team who may also be able to offer help but from an epilepsy point of view.

Please feel free to contact us either by email helpline@epilepsy.org.uk or the Epilepsy Helpline freephone 0808 800 5050.

I hope things work out good for you.


Diane Wallace

Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Diane-Epilepsy ... on

I have been working for my employee for over 5 years. And after such a long service I am entitle to 11 weeks sick pay.
In my work we have a Bradford points system to control and manage everyone's absence. When I had a fit at work and had to take a day off work I never got any points because they treat it as ongoing disability. Also I never received any sick pay for all the days I have been of sick.
If I am entitle to sick pay is it legal for them not to pay me ? I understand that I don't get the points, but this is how it works for everyone, if it is a disability or ongoing problem we don't get points...

Submitted by Mike on

Hello Mike

Thanks for your question. This may have to do with the terms and conditions of your employment contract. But, we are not experts in employment law. If you contact ACAS with your issue, they should be able to advise if your situation could be considered illegal, and the best way to proceed. The ACAS helpline telephone is 0300 123 1100.

I hope that helps.


Advice & Information Team

Submitted by Sacha-Epilepsy ... on

Can I just from bitter experience ACAS are useless, claim to be impartial, they are anything but! The odds are stacked against in proving discrimination because the employer has a endless number of ways to wriggle out or justify there actions. As an epileptic myself cut your loses and seek another job, hopefully they maybe more understanding. Its a uphill battle believe me!

Submitted by simon on

I'm sending this on behalf of my brother his been diganosed with epilepsy this passed year his employed and has been with his current employers the passed 7years plus he was given a pay rise just before he was diganosed as he was doing a good job but since his epilepsy his bosses are now saying as his unable to carry out his duty in full as there are power tools to be used and has to carry out jobs at a hight they are saying they are having to reduce his wages as it's un fair on the others is this fair and are they able to do this

Submitted by LouLou on

Hello LouLou

I believe we may have spoken. If I am mistaken, please feel free to contact us on the helpline freephone 0808 800 5050.

Kind regards


Epilepsy Action Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Sacha, Epilepsy... on

I am writing this on behalf of my son, who is struggling with work based problems due to a seizure which took place last May. He has had epilepsy since the age of 10. He started with petit mal which progressed to grand mal. He has been on medication since the age of 16 and has been seizure free for 12 years. He works in a factory which involves a lot of manual work, lifting etc and he has the use of aids, including a picker and other machinery to aid the lifting. Last May 2014 he had a sudden seizure, fortunately this happened at home. He went to see the doctor, and was advised to contact the DVLA. He was under the impression both via his doctor and his consultant that following a very successful update of his medication he would have his licence back in 6 months. His company were well aware of this. They made no alterations to the equipment he was using until 4 months in, when they suddenly announced due to him not having a driving licence he would have to do everything manually. My son was upset about this, as the lifting is very heavy and taxing on him. But he carried on, thinking it would be short lived. 6 months was up, but the DVLA have taken the decision to not reissue his licence for 12 months. The situation at work has now become intolerable. No help or amendments have been made, they still say it all has to be done manually. My son now has a bad back, bad knees and has developed a chronic foot condition. He has been to occupational health to explain his problems, but nothing has been done. So now they have moved him onto the production line. Still with lifting, but due to his recent foot problem etc he is finding this increasingly difficult. Yesterday the company sent him home on full pay until they sort this out - how does he stand legally. I am very concerned that they might dismiss him. He has his own house and is getting married later this year - he needs his job. As he can't drive thanks to the DVLA despite his GP and Consultant stating they are happy for him to drive, he can't even attend interviews for jobs, as most of them would need the use of a car to get to and from work. Any advise you can offer would be greatly appreciated. .

Submitted by Cathy on

Dear Cathy

Thank you for your question. It sounds like your son is having some terrible times due to his employment situation.

Due to his epilepsy, your son, is covered by the Equality laws. Therefore his employer should make reasonable adjustments to help him in his workplace. I can’t see how doing things manually is reasonable. Also its sounds like his employer isn’t looking at the duty of care they have to your son. All employers have a duty of care, to all their staff, this is in line with Health and Safety regulations.

We can give you general information on epilepsy and employment but I feel your son really needs some legal advice. If he isn’t in a trade union he could contact one of the helpful organisations listed on our website.

Regarding his driving. There is a driving regulation for when someone has a seizure after being seizure free for at least five years. The driving agency, in some cases, consider this to be an isolated seizure.

The regulation says:

6 months off driving from the date of the seizure. If there are clinical factors or investigation results which suggest an unacceptably high risk of a further seizure, i.e. 20% or greater per annum, this will be 12 months off driving from the date of the seizure.

(This regulation can only apply for one occasion.)

Before approaching the DVLA, you or your son may wish to discuss this further with our Epilepsy Helpline team. Sometimes, appealing against the DVLA can delay getting the licence back even more.


Epilepsy Action Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Diane@Epilepsy ... on


I have been employed on repeated temporary contracts for my job for a year now. The job has now gone live to apply for as a permanant position - In the job spec it does not state that the person must drive as it is under supported housing mainly.
I have been told by my manager it is not likely that I will get the job as I do not drive. When she employed me over a year ago the company including her were aware I was epileptic and could not drive due to this. I have proven for this year period that I am able to complete the job in the same way as those that can drive and to the same standard. Do i have any rights as I feel at a disadvantage/discriminated against due to my disability.

Kind regards,
Daniella D

Submitted by daniella on

I'm Epileptic and my company are fully aware as I declared it when completely my application form. When I started nobody was aware so I had a meeting with my district manager at the time about it and she asked questions and wrote everything she needed to know down. My new district manager had no idea and even when informed she never approached me about it she just spoke to my manager about it. Apparently, there was no record of it so why didn't she have a one to one with me over it? They've made me a keyholder even though I shouldn't be one and I was told I have no choice as everybody needs to be one? I've stressed to my new manager I don't want to be one but he has still put me as the emergency keyholder! Stress and tiredness cause my fits and our store is short staffed. I've said that being short staff is causing unnecessary stress as it is hard work but was told by my manager that our District manager won't employee somebody else as she wants to save money? I'm always telling people about my epilepsy as nobody is being informing, I put a notice up explaining what to do incase I fit and even demonstrated what to do if I fit. I feel like it's all left to me?

Am I wrong in thinking they're just seeming to turn a blind eye to my epilepsy?

Submitted by SamanthaDebbie on

Hi, please, please help!, my husband has been a Roofer for nearly 30 years, but in January 2014 he was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour which he successfully underwent treatment for, however after the operation he suffered two tonic clonic seizures in September 2014 and October 2014, he has been put into 1000mg keppra twice a day and since his last seizure in October 2014 he has NOT suffered further, but thanks to a letter from his GP in November 2014 he was dismissed from the roofing firm due to ill health.

His condition and epilepsy has proved stable and it is coming up to a year since his last fit, we are finding it extremely difficult to get advice as to whether he can return to working as a Roofer, I have tried the GP who is unsure and is going to write to my husbands neurologist, the neurologist said it is not down to him to make a decision, I have tried Fit for Work who state the employer should get a Occupational Health involved and I have tried to call a private firm who said Fit for work should be able to help.

we feel like we are going round in circles and everyone keeps fobbing us off, all my husband wants to know is if he can roof ever again and how we get. Fit for work. His roofing firm that he worked for is unlikely to pay for an occupational health consultant bearing in mind the answer could be yes or no.

Please, please could you give us some advice?

Submitted by emma Lennon on

Hi Emma
Thank you for your question.  It must be very confusing not getting any definite answers. So I hope the following information will help with your husband’s situation.

There are no set rules or time scales for most jobs. Everyone should be assessed as an individual person.  When an employer knows about someone’s epilepsy, they should do a risk assessment. This is to identify any possible safety risks to the person with epilepsy, or other people in the workplace. Our risk assessment webpage have some of the questions a person may be asked during a risk assessment.

More information about the Health and Safety at Work Act is available from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Websites: hse.gov.uk (for England, Scotland or Wales); nidirect.gov.uk (for Northern Ireland).

As long as the employer has done a risk assessment, if they think someone is safe, their liability insurance will cover them. It’s only if they knowingly put someone at risk, that their insurance may not cover them. More information about employer’s insurance is available from the Health and Safety Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Before the Equality Laws, many companies used the driving laws as an automatic guide for someone with epilepsy and safety to do certain jobs. Whilst this can no longer be the case, if a risk assessment shows safety is an issue, the driving regulations of 12 months seizure free may be used for guidance.

If an employer thinks there are risks involved with your husbands employment, but he is legally allowed to drive a car, it may be worth explaining the driving rules to them. If the driving agencies consider your husband would be safe to drive a car, there is a reasonable argument that he would be safe in most work environments.

I hope this is of help.  If you wish to discuss this further, please feel free to contact our helpline team,  either by email helpline@epilepsy.org.uk or phone the Epilepsy Action Helpline freephone 0808 800 5050. Our helpline is open Monday to Friday, 8.30am until 5.30pm.


Diane Wallace
Epilepsy Action Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Diane, Epilepsy... on

I have had epilepsy for a number of years and have never kept it a secret from any of my employers. I currently work in a secondary school Library and have done for over a year now. When I applied I put down in the application form that I had epilepsy. No question was ever raised about this. Recently I had a break through episode nothing major it was a minor absence and it wasn't at work. I informed them straight away about what had happened. Now I am under going loads of questions from both the health and safety officer and county hall. Some questions I can answer others I can't as I just don't know the answer. I work in the library and am often on my own with students at lunch and break. I have never had a seizure at work although the health safety officer kept calling them fits which I hate as a term. My worry is this could upset my work and cause me issues that I have never had before. I have never had any issues with previous employers and have always been allowed to get on with my job, which for some parts was lone working as well. Should my present employer be allowed to make a issue out it. Feeling very confused and worried that I could be forced out of a job that I love.

Submitted by Zoe Wilkinson on

Hi Zoe
This must be a difficult situation to find yourself in. I can hear that this is worrying you.

As a person with epilepsy, you are protected at work by the Equality Laws. This means that an employer cannot treat your unfairly, or discriminate against you in any way just because you have epilepsy.

An employer should do a risk assessment when they find out a person has epilepsy. This should help identify if there are any possible safety risks to you, or to other people because of your epilepsy. Your employer can then use the information from a risk assessment to make reasonable adjustments in the workplace to make it safer.

As you have said, you have been doing the work for over a year now. Brief absences should not be a problem if you are with secondary age students. If your employer wants to make any changes, they will need to justify their actions. Many people tell us this helps them to feel more confident when dealing with their employer if they know their rights. Organisations such as Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) and Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) may be able to give you personalised advice.

Epilepsy is very individual to each person living with it. It may be that your employer does not understand epilepsy in the way you do.  Our awareness training is a great way for them to learn more about epilepsy. You could also guide them to our helpline, to find out more about how they can support you.

If you would like to talk further about this, or we can be of any more help, please feel free to contact us again, either by email or the Epilepsy Action Helpline freephone 0808 800 5050.

Epilepsy Action Advice & Information Team

Submitted by Karen, Epilepsy... on

ive been working at this pub for 2 years now and i startedt with two shifts a week doing pot washing and i eventually began to do some shifts working with food making starters and plating up. it was great i had plenty of shifts each week then i had a siezure at work and in total over the 2 years ive worked there i have had 3 siezures. so my place of work has stopped giving me the shifts knowing im fully capable of the job and even replaced me however i still have the two shifts a week but thats nothing compared to the amount of hours i was getting. so ive asked if i can work on the bar im 19 so this isnt an unreasonable request on my half i havent even had a chance i feel like they are just ignoring me and using me to cover two nights a week every one else has had the chance to try other posistions in the pub but im allowed not because of my once every 3 month siezure pattern please tell me there is something i can do about this i feel like it is totally wrong that they are doing it.

Submitted by Anthony on

Hi Anthony
Thank you for your question.

It must be very frustrating not being offered the hours. It would be good if your employer could give you a proper explanation for this.

Because of your epilepsy, you are covered by the Equality Laws. This means your employer should not discriminate against you and must do their best to make sure that you are not put at a disadvantage because of your epilepsy.

If your seizures may affect you at work, you and your employer should have a meeting. This should be to see if there is anything they can do to help you keep the hours you work.  This meeting should involve a risk assessment and discussing any ‘reasonable adjustment that can be made. Any decisions they make or suggest must be justified and reasonable.

Working in kitchens or behind bars could have safety issues if your seizures are unpredictable at the moment. If at the meeting it’s decided that your epilepsy is too unpredictable to work in certain areas or roles, ask them to review their decision in a few months’ time.

If you have a contract with your employer you could see what that says about your working hours.

If we can be of any more help or you would like to discuss this further with our helpline team,  please feel free to contact us again, either by email epilepsy.org.uk or phone the Epilepsy Action Helpline freephone 0808 800 5050. Our helpline is open Monday to Friday, 8.30am until 5.30pm.

Good luck
Diane Wallace
Epilepsy Action Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Diane, Epilepsy... on

have just been diagnosed with epilepsy and have been sent home from work due to side effects of the medication. my manager has informed me that he cannot pay me to work less productively than another person and if it is felt i am unable to work will be sent home without pay. I am slower than normal but still doing what is asked, they are also saying for the days i got sent home i must produce a doctors certificate even though i would be covered by a self cert as it is with the 7days. can you please advise thank you

Submitted by lillian on

Hi Lillian
That sounds like a difficult situation. Asking you to provide a doctor’s note when you would be covered through self-certification sounds like poor treatment to say the least.

As your employer knows you have epilepsy they should have done a risk assessment and considered any possible reasonable adjustments. It doesn’t sound like this has happened for you.

If having done this, they still feel you are not working ‘productively enough’ then they would need to go through a process of assessment and warning.

The first thing is to check the terms and conditions of your employment. Then I suggest you contact ACAS which is an employment helpline. They will clarify the law for you and talk you through the best way to challenge your employer. Their phone number is 0300 123 1100. Hopefully you can settle it with a further conversation, but if not, ACAS may talk to you about the grievance procedure.

Part of the issue may also be about how they are treating other employees on a similar contract to you. They may be discriminating against you because of your epilepsy. ACAS should be able to help you with this angle too. But if not, you could contact the Equality Advisory Support Service. They know more about discrimination. Their helpline number is 0808 800 0082.

I do hope this gives you a direction to go in. And that the situation gets resolved for you. If we can be of any more help, please feel free to contact us again, either by email or the Epilepsy Action Helpline freephone 0808 800 5050.

Yours sincerely
Epilepsy Action Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Cherry, Epileps... on

Hi i work early mornings at a large well known retailer.i,m currently expected to work outside in the dark in poorly lit areas unsupervised.i have had many grand mal fits but allso myclonic jerks.my employer has other employees with other disabilities and we are all treated unfairly.my question is this.is it fair to give a person with epilepsy or any other disability 3 points and a disciplinary for in my case having 5 massive jerks in front of witnesses.i knew something was wrong and went home were i had a further epileptic seizure.could you please advise.

Submitted by paul on