Care plans for seizures at work
If there’s a chance you will have seizures at work, it’s a good idea to prepare a care plan with your employer. This can include what happens when you have a seizure and how people can help you during and afterwards. This information collected at your risk assessment can be used to help you do this. Here are some more suggestions:
- If you usually recover quickly after a seizure, you might be able to get straight back to work. Or, you might just need a quiet place to rest, before returning to work. The care plan should say where this rest should take place
- If you normally take a long time to recover from a seizure, you might need to go home. Your care plan should show how you will get home, and who will travel with you, if necessary. This should be in line with company policies and procedures for anyone becoming unwell at work
What is a health and safety risk assessment?
It’s an assessment your employer must do to make sure you can carry out your duties safely. Some questions that might come up during your health and safety risk assessment are:
- What happens to you when you have a seizure?
- Are your seizures controlled?
- How often do you have seizures?
- Do they happen at a particular time of day?
- Do they happen when you are awake, asleep, or both?
- Is there anything that makes your seizures more likely, such as lack of sleep, tiredness, stress, hormonal changes, flashing or flickering lights or patterns?
- Do you get a warning before a seizure?
- How long do your seizures last?
- How do you feel afterwards?
- How long does it take you to recover?
- Do you need any first aid/specific care during/following a seizure?
What is a reasonable adjustment?
It’s something that your employer could do to help you at work, such as:
- Make changes to your working pattern and duties
- Provide training or mentoring
- Make alterations to their building
- Make sure they provide information in a format you can use
- Change or get different equipment
- Allow you extra time to do selection ‘tests’
- Making sure you don’t work alone, or there is a ‘regular check in’ process for you
Reasonable adjustments have to be reasonable to the employer and to you.
Many reasonable adjustments involve little or no cost. If there are costs involved, funding might be available from Access to Work.
Website: www.gov.uk/access to work
People with epilepsy talk about their reasonable adjustments at work
“My seizures are always first thing in the morning. I am allowed to start and finish work two hours later than other people”
“I have a poor memory, so my boss always writes down instructions as well as talking to me about them”
“There’s a three shift system where I work. I don’t do the night shift, as my seizures can be triggered by not having a regular sleep pattern”
“I’m a community nurse. When I lost my licence after a seizure, I was given clinic work instead”
“My usual work is delivering post. After my recent seizure, I was given work in the sorting office, rather than my usual walking round”
“I’ve recently qualified as a chef and work in a large company. My seizures are not fully controlled, so I work well away from the ovens and stoves”
“We have children between the ages of 0-3 years in our nursery. I work with the older children, as they don’t need carrying around. That could be risky if I had a seizure”
“Our sales teams work in various offices around the country. Since I lost my driving license, I’ve been moved to our local office, rather than travelling to head office.”
“I need regular hospital appointments during my usual working hours. My employers do their best to accommodate them.”
“My boss records my epilepsy sickness separately from sickness for other reasons. This means it doesn’t look too bad on my sickness record.”
Employers can decide themselves how much sickness absence they will allow before your absence from epilepsy is considered excessive.
If your employer doesn’t make reasonable adjustments to help you, this could be illegal, unless they have significant justification. But sometimes it might not be possible to make a job safe, even with adjustments, if you have uncontrolled seizures. Not making reasonable adjustments in this instance would not be illegal.
If your epilepsy changes (for example, you get better or worse seizure control), you should ask your employer to do a new risk assessment for you. Generally speaking, if you’re allowed to drive a car, then there are few jobs you can’t do.
No reasonable adjustment needed
It may be that you won’t need any adjustments to be made in the workplace. This could be if you are completely seizure free, or you or others wouldn’t come to any harm if you had a seizure at work.
If you would like to see this information with references, visit the Advice and Information references section of our website.
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 2015To be reviewed October 2018