We exist to improve the lives
of everyone affected by epilepsy

 

Looking for work

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

What type of work can I do?

It depends on how your epilepsy affects your daily life, and what skills and experience you have.

Which jobs might not be open to me because of my epilepsy?

Very few. Employers shouldn’t use your epilepsy as a reason not to give you a job, unless they have very good reason. Here are some 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 are still having seizures, they could refuse to give you a job where climbing ladders is a substantial part of the job.

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 10 years, legally you are not allowed to hold a 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. This means the Armed Forces can refuse to employ you because you have epilepsy or a history of epilepsy.

Can I be asked questions about my health before I’m offered a job?

It depends. If you apply for a job, employers aren’t generally allowed to ask you questions about your health before they offer you the job. This includes questions about your previous sickness absence. And, at this stage, they can’t refer you to an occupational health adviser or ask you to fill in a questionnaire provided by an occupational health adviser.

However, employers are allowed to ask questions about your health or any medical conditions before they offer you a job, if they have a good reason. This might be because they need to make a reasonable adjustment for your job interview or for an assessment. Or, the employer might need to know if there are health and safety reasons why you couldn’t do the essential duties of a specific job, such as working at heights.

If, without good cause, the employer asks questions about your health before offering you a job, they can’t rely on this information when making a decision about the job. If they do, this would be disability discrimination.

Application forms
Employers should only ask you to fill in a medical questionnaire before offering you a job when this is essential. And the questions must be targeted on the essential duties of the job. So, if an application form includes questions about your health, and you don’t feel this is relevant. You can choose to ignore them.

However, they could ask if you need any reasonable adjustment to be made for an interview. For example, they could ask if you need extra time to do a test.

Job interviews
During an interview, an employer is only allowed to ask questions about your health if they are directly linked to an essential aspect of the job you are applying for. As an example, they could ask how your epilepsy could affect your ability to do that job safely.

If your ability to do the job safely and effectively is not affected by your epilepsy, you don’t need to mention it. An example of this could be if you only have seizures when you are asleep, or your seizures are well controlled.

Epilepsy Action has more information about the equality laws

Sources of help and support when looking for work

Jobcentre Plus work coaches

A work coach can help you in your search for work, or to gain new skills. They can also tell you about disability friendly employers in your area.

To have an appointment with a work coach, you need to be already receiving certain benefits, or be disabled. See Am I considered to be disabled if I have epilepsy?

Contact your local Jobcentre Plus to speak to a work coach. If you live in Scotland, you can also get help from Fair Start Scotland.

Disability Confident

When you’re looking for work, look for the ‘disability confident’ logo on adverts and application forms. The logo means the employer is committed to employing disabled people. If a job advert displays the logo, you’ll be guaranteed an interview if you meet the basic conditions for the job. 

Work programmes and grants

The Work and Health Programme
If you live in England or Wales, the Work and Health Programme can help you find and keep a job if you’re out of work.

Work Clubs
Anyone who’s unemployed can join a Work Club. They’re run by local organisations like employers and community groups, and give you the chance to share knowledge, experience and job hunting tips.

Specialist Employability Support
Specialist Employability Support is intensive support and training to help you into work if you’re disabled. You’ll usually get Specialist Employability Support for 12 months.

Information about all these programmes is available from Jobcentre Plus.

If you would like to see this information with references, visit the Advice and Information references section of our website. If you are unable to access the internet, please contact our Epilepsy Action Helpline freephone on 0808 800 5050.

Code: 
B135.05

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 August 2018
    To be reviewed August 2019

Comments: read the 8 comments or add yours

Comments

There are no DEAs any more.

Submitted by LINDA EDWARDS on

Hi, I've had epilepsy since 2010. I worked as a care assistant back last year. My boss at the time was well aware of the epilepsy and that it could strike anytime. She was all for it just let the girls you're working with know so then they are aware in case something happens,because of my seizures i have memory loss and have been told it could lead onto early stages of dementia :( I just want another job again,part time,something i love and that's what I'm taking my time to do lately. If their is anyone out there in the same boat as me and would like a chat i am always open. I have epilepsy for the rest of my life where as some people can grow out of it and honestly it scares me.

Submitted by Zoe on

Hi zoe ive only just found this site,i too had exactly same job as you the matron who ran the care home was brill understood my epilepsy i loved the job,but as i get tired a lot had to catch two buses to work,anyway the was a care home in same road as my mom,only one bus to catch and could nip to moms for a cuppa after my shift. I didnt really want to leave my recent job as i had good friends but had to think of my health.got the job by my moms easy new of my condition then all hell broke was bullied by manager said some nasty things to me i was that upset i ended up making complaint on her to bosses,after getting told off she begged me to come back,as you can imagine i told her were she can go.but that comment dragged me down for years i have no confidence to even look for work now am stuck indoors im desperate for work so i can relate,if you did have any luck give me advice,hope all worked out for you in the end.

Submitted by Michelle1970 on

Hi Michelle and Zoe

It can be soul destroying when you are bullied or have difficulty finding working because of your epilepsy.

I know it’s easy for others to say, but  don’t let what you have experience with one boss put you off looking for other work. There are supportive employers out there.

If you have difficulties with traveling to work, you might be entitled to Access to Work.

I hope you hear from others on this webpage, as sharing information and experiences can be a really good idea. Can I just check you also know about our online community, forum4e and local coffee and chat meetings? These are both another good way to talk to other people in a similar situation.

Finally, you could always talk to one of us, Advice and Information Officers, on the Epilepsy Helpline (freephone, UK only) 0808 800 5050. Callers to the Helpline are guaranteed a friendly welcome and can discuss their concerns confidentially.

Regards

Diane

Epilepsy Action Helpline Team

 

Submitted by Diane-Epilepsy ... on

Who will employ me a job I am 21 with Epillepsy and I have been wrote off. I am doing nothing with my life.

Submitted by Liam mackenzie on

Can anyone help my 17 year old son who was diagnosed with epilepsy a few years ago. His mood and memory have been affected .He left school without any real qualifications. everyone he was at school with have moved into further education or jobs-school abandondoned him and he is at home alone doing nothing.

Submitted by Maureen on

Dear Maureen,

A work coach may be able to help your son look for work, gain new skills,  or find disability friendly employers in your area. And they could give him advice about programmes and grants that might help him get into work. To be put in touch with a work coach, your son would need to speak to his local Jobcentre Plus. We also have some information on our website about memory and mood that might be useful.

Regards              

Jess

Epilepsy Action Helpline Team

Submitted by rich on

I have epilepsy plus declining memory loss. Soon as I mention the word epilepsy they close the door. Otherwise just say nonyou are not suitable
At the moment I am on long term sick. The company I work for t.k.maxx said until my memory gets better I was no good to them. They have me 8 weeks to improve or I would loose my job. So I went on long term sick.

Submitted by David Jubb on

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