When your employer knows about your epilepsy, they should do a risk assessment. This is to identify any possible safety risks to you, or other people in the workplace, because of your epilepsy. Your employer can use the information from a risk assessment to make reasonable adjustments in the workplace to make it safer.
Epilepsy affects everybody in different ways and everybody’s job is different. So, when somebody does a risk assessment for you, they should look at your epilepsy and your job.
Here are some of the questions you may be asked during a risk assessment:
- What type(s) of seizure do you have?
- What sorts of things can trigger a seizure?
- How often do you have seizures?
- How long do your seizures usually last?
- What usually happens when you have a seizure?
- How long does it usually take you to recover from a seizure?
- What time of day do you usually have seizures?
- Do you get a warning - also known as an ‘aura’ - before you have a seizure?
- Are there any areas of your job that could be dangerous, if you had a seizure?
- Is there any part of the job that you are concerned about?
It is good practice for your employer to ask an occupational health professional to help with doing a risk assessment. Your employer doesn’t have to follow any recommendations that they make. But if they don’t, they need to have a good reason, or this could be seen as discrimination.
Epilepsy Action has information about organisations that do risk assessments.
Results of a risk assessment
A risk assessment may identify that your epilepsy would have very little, if any, impact on your job. For example, your seizures may be well controlled. Or you may work in a place where there would be little danger if you had a seizure, such as an office. So, your employer may not need to make any reasonable adjustments to make the workplace safer for you.
Sometimes, the information from a risk assessment will identify some reasonable adjustments that your employer can make to help you. Here are some examples:
If your seizures can happen at any time, it would be dangerous to work near the hot stoves in a kitchen. Your employer may decide that it would be safer for you to work away from the stoves.
You may only ever have seizures at night. If your workplace normally operates over 24 hours, your employer may be willing to allow you to only do day shifts.
If you have photosensitive epilepsy, using older types of computer monitors in some situations may trigger your seizures. Your employer may ensure that you have a monitor that is unlikely to trigger seizures.
If the risk assessment shows that there is only part of the job that would not be safe for you, the employer can stop you from just doing that part. If you get better seizure control in the future, you could ask your employer to do a new risk assessment for you.
Sometimes, a risk assessment may show that there is nothing that can be done to make a job safe for you. If this happens, and there is no suitable alternative work available, your employer may be allowed to end your employment. This would be for health and safety reasons.
If you are seizure free
If your employer thinks there are risks involved with your employment, but you are legally allowed to drive a car, it may be worth explaining the driving rules to them. If the driving agencies consider you would be safe to drive a car, there is a reasonable argument that you would be safe in most work environments.
If you would like to see this information with references, visit the Advice and Information references section of our website. See Work and epilepsy.
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 2013To be reviewed November 2016