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Work and epilepsy - employees

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

This information is about looking for and staying in work. It looks at your rights in the workplace and ways the workplace can become more epilepsy-friendly. This might be down to reasonable adjustments being made after you have had a health and safety risk assessment (see below). Or by changing employer or employee attitudes to epilepsy. It also tells you how you can take action if you feel you are being treated unfairly at work.

Am I considered to be disabled if I have epilepsy?

You are classed as disabled by the equality laws if you have epilepsy that has a substantial effect on your day-to-day activities. Or would have a substantial effect, if you were not taking your epilepsy medicine.

If you have a type of epilepsy that is not currently causing any problems and doesn’t need epilepsy medicine, but could be triggered by specific certain circumstances, then you are likely to be covered. Some common triggers for epileptic seizures are:

  • Feeling tired
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Stress

Epilepsy Action has more information about things that trigger seizures

The equality laws are called the Equality Act in England, Scotland and Wales and the Disability Discrimination Act in Northern Ireland. They apply to you whether or not you take epilepsy medicines.

The equality laws cover everything to do with work including:

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

Epilepsy Action has more information about the equality laws

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.

tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/EpilepsyInTheWorkplace.pdf

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

Code: 
B135.04

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 October 2015
    To be reviewed October 2018

Comments: read the 30 comments or add yours

Comments

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.

Regards

Diane Wallace

Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Diane-Epilepsy ... on

Hi,
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.

Sacha

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

Hi
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

Sacha

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.

Regards

Diane
Epilepsy Action Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Diane@Epilepsy ... on

Hi,

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.

Regards

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.

Karen
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
Regards
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
Cherry
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

Hi Paul
It sounds like you’re in a difficult situation with your employer. This is what is supposed to happen at 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. It doesn’t sound, from what you say, like the employer has carried out any risk assessment for you.

And it certainly is not appropriate for you to be disciplined for having a seizure. I wonder if there was anything else happening at the time? Or maybe your manager just really doesn’t understand about epilepsy. If this might be the case, and if you have an epilepsy nurse, it is sometimes possible for them to write a letter to your employer explaining about how your epilepsy affects you.

Or you could download our TUC guidance on epilepsy in the workplace for them: epilepsy.org.uk/info/employment

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.

It may be that if a number of you feel you are being treated unfairly, that you could all meet with your employers to see if something could be sorted out that way. ACAS might be able to help you work out the best thing to do.

I really hope it is possible for this to get sorted for you.

Cherry
Epilepsy Action Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Cherry, Epileps... on

Hi please help us,my daughter is epileptic usually controlled . 3 seizures in 12 months 1at work.
She works in child care doing before school & after school clubs, thins includes taking them to & from school. She has been there over a year &'twas up front about her condition on application.
She also covered reception for extra shifts.
Every time she felt unwell petit malls she would threaten too take these away as she was unreliable by text to force her to go in.
Now she has taken them away & informed her the now need a letter from doctor to state she won't have a seizure at work, nobody can state that.
My daughter is 25 , so I try to let her handle things but this is third time we have been through this & she normally walks away. Not this time.
I would like to ask her to get a letter from her doctor stating the same thing.
She has also been bullied with witnesses but nothing was done , it now continues through silent treatment.

Submitted by Ronnie Doran on

Hi Ronnie

It sounds like your daughter is having a very difficult time at work.

Because of her epilepsy she is covered by the equality law. This means her employer must not discriminate against her and if necessary must make any ‘reasonable adjustment’. This is to make sure that she is not put at a disadvantage to a non-disabled person, just because she has epilepsy.

Now she has had a seizure and this could cause problems at work, they have a duty to do a risk assessment. From this assessment there may be some reasonable adjustments suggested. Her employers should do their best to make sure that she is not put at a disadvantage because of her epilepsy.

An example of a reasonable adjustment could be that she doesn’t work on her own with the children. And could someone else do the walking to and from school perhaps? The employers have to justify if these kind of adjustments are not possible. They cannot just say it’s not possible.

Also your daughter may want to have a care plan put in place for if another seizure happens at work.

The employers should not be asking the doctor to state she will never have another seizure. It’s not possible for them to say this, just as it’s not possible for them to say someone will not have another heart attack or asthma attack.

The Equality laws also protect your daughter when somebody behaves towards her in a way she doesn’t want, such as taunting or bullying, and the behaviour has the purpose or effect of:

  • violating her dignity (failing to treat her in a respectful way), or
  • creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for her.

Her employer has a duty to protect her from harassment in the workplace.

It would be helpful to look at your daughter’s terms and conditions of employment and discuss all of the above further with an employment rights organisation.

Then if possible your daughter can talk it over with her manager or someone with a responsibility for human resources. If she belongs to a union, she may want to contact them for help.

I hope thing all go well for your daughter.

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. We are open Monday to Friday 8.30am until 5.30pm.

Diane
Advice and Information Services Officer, Epilepsy Action

Submitted by Diane@Epilepsy ... on

I have epilepsy an work made reasonable adjustments and have been working with them for 4 years I asked for a pay rise as I think I have been working hard but was told because of the adjustment agreed I wasn't doing a full job a was not allowed one as I was employed as a wood machineist but now just a bench hand and am in the office as well I think I still work hard an the fact I'm not allowed to use machinery and have a extra break being used against me is quite unfair my meds make me very tied and until I have no breaks and can use all machines no pay rise

Submitted by Dan on

Hi Dan
Thanks for your message. It must be very frustrating to be told you can’t have a pay rise because of the reasonable adjustments that have been made. Depending on how well controlled your seizures are, it’s possible you might not need the adjustments anymore. For example, if you are now seizure free, you may be able to work with machines again.

From what you’ve described, it sounds like your employer may have treated you unfairly. Under the equality laws, it is illegal for an employer to treat someone with epilepsy less favourably because of their epilepsy. We have more information about epilepsy and the equality laws.

You may find our information about what to do if you have problems at work useful, and we also have a list of organisations that provide work advice.

I hope this helps. If we can be of any further help, please feel free to contact us on the Epilepsy Action Helpline.

Grace
Epilepsy Action Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Grace, Epilepsy... on

my brother suffers from epilepsy and has recently had more fits than normal- he works for a government based call centre and has been called in for disciplinary meetings as hasn't been attending as much as he should- they are really hassling him and he is in fear of his job. can they get rid of him because of this?

Submitted by Helen Green on

Hi Helen
Sorry to hear your brother is having problems with his employer. It must be a very anxious time for him.

Due to his epilepsy he is covered by the Equality Laws. This means his employer must not discriminate against him or treat him unfairly.

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 produced by the Equality and Human Rights commission

It’s advisable for your brother to look at his terms and condition of employment, which will explain the company’s policy for sick leave. Ideally, his employer should be meeting with him to see if there is anything they can do to help. This should also give him the opportunity to explain what he is doing to help with the situation. For example, if he is seeing his epilepsy specialist or if his treatment is being altered.

If you haven’t already, you and your brother may wish to view our information on work. There is information on risk assessments, staying in work and what to do if you feel he is been treated unfairly at work that I hope you will find helpful.

Only if his employer has tried to be more flexible to accommodate his epilepsy related absence and there is still a problem, could they terminate his employment. If you are concerned this may happen it would be good to discuss this further with the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS) (England, Scotland and Wales). The EASS gives free advice, information and guidance to individuals on equality, discrimination and human rights issues.

Tel. 0808 800 0082

Website: equalityadvisoryservice.com

If we can be of any more help, please feel free to contact us again. You can contact the helpline team directly, either by email helpline@epilepsy.org.uk or the Epilepsy Action Helpline freephone 0808 800 5050. Our helpline is open Monday to Friday, 8.30am until 5.30pm

Regards
Diane
Epilepsy Action Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Diane, Epilepsy... on

I have recently been diagnosed with Hippocampal Sclerosis and Epilepsy. I had a grand mal seizure at work and after a severe head injury I returned. Now I have returned, my bosses have seemed to have upped my job roles after my risk assessment and now my colleagues are tell me the boss is trying to either make me quit or find a reasonable excuse to dismiss me for not carrying out all my duties, but they pile so much on me and I have asked them not too; I suffer with memory loss and headaches frequently and I know he cannot fire me because of my condition; it just seems the boss and the supervisors are focusing all their energy on making me trip up and get me out. I worked in my job for 5 years and we were all practically a work-family and now they look and treat me like a liability. It's unfair, no one else I work with is pushed and cornered.

Submitted by Alex on

Hello Alex
This sounds like a difficult situation to find yourself in.

As a person who has epilepsy, you are protected at work by the equality laws. This means that an employer cannot treat you differently because of your epilepsy. It also means that they must consider making reasonable adjustments which will support you to do your job.

It is good to hear that they have done a risk assessment, but it is worth thinking about whether they have considered how your epilepsy affects you. For an employer to make reasonable adjustments, they need to be understanding of your epilepsy. An example is the way in which it affects your memory.

It would be worth you getting some specialist advice about this. You may find it helpful to contact Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) and Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) who will be able to give you employment and equality advice. They can check that your employer is meeting their legal duties, and tell you what to do if you are being treated unfairly.

It is widely recognised that a person who has epilepsy can have memory problems. Living with memory difficulties can be a challenge, as memory difficulties affect each person differently. You may find it helpful to take a look at our memory enhancement strategies  information on our website. Some people find that making a few small changes in their life, such as following a set routine or adapting their surroundings, can make a huge difference.

If we can be of any more help, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Karen
Epilepsy Action Advice & Information Team

Submitted by Karen, Epilepsy... on

Hi, i was diagnosed in 1985. I have worked for my employer for 18 years (a very large telecommunications company) my epilepsy was fairly well controlled and I never mentioned my illness to my employer. I moved to different role 18 months ago and 6 months after that, I had many serious seizures which left me hospitalised 8 or 9 times over a 5 week period. I had been under tremendous pressure at work battling to keep the hours I currently work. Routine is crucial to managing my illness. Obviously I had to reveal my illness to my employers who supported me initially, but on my return to work I was issued with formal warning. I had this overturned on appeal. My consultant & gp both wrote to my employers. I have since been off again due to more seizures, I suspect due to change in medication. I have now been issued with formal warning. I feel unhappy in my job now as I feel discriminated against and can no longer cope with the daily upset. I'm still battling to keep my hours steady. I've been through ohs twice who agree I should be kept on 5 day week with same start and finish but my employers say I need to give more. What is my position please? Thanks in advance.

Submitted by Marjory oneill on