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Care plans, risk assessments and reasonable adjustments

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. 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 10 comments or add yours

Comments

This has been so helpful. My son has,18, has started an Apprentice ship in his dream job as a Laboratory Technician. Despite referring to his epilepsy at interview the HR team.now have to Risk Assess his role and theres a doubt he is suitable!
He is devastated. The points raised will help convince the employer that a Care Plan will be the best way to protect my Son and keep the employers happy. Thankyou

Submitted by Debbie on

Please can u explain the protocol for people with focal intractable epilepsy taken to A and E with continuing seizures. For example should a risk assessment be done and the patient put in a bed or trolley with rails ?

Submitted by Harriet Kay on

Is it safe for a nurse with uncontrolled epilepsy having seizures at work to take charge of a ward or department, to work shifts etc and to be in contact with vulnerable people/patients?

Submitted by Harriet Kay on

Hi Harriet

A hospital does have a duty of care to its patients. So if at all possible A and E should do what is safest for each patient.

If someone thinks they have not been looked after correctly in hospital they can always contact PALS. This is the patient advice and liaison service. They can help people with this type of concern.

If a person’s employer knows they have epilepsy they need to do a risk assessment. The possible risks for a person with epilepsy will vary a lot depending on how the condition affects them. If any risks are identified then the employer has to consider any possible reasonable adjustments. This process is the same wherever someone works.

I hope that helps.

Regards

Cherry  

Epilepsy Action Helpline Team

Submitted by rich on

i currently work as a caretaker in a primary school i have had seizures due to my employer saying i had to work 12hr shifts. i stopped working the shifts and returned back to my normal hours and been seizure free since. i have been medically suspended and been to see an occupational health doctor who has said i am fit to work in my current role with no redeployment. As well as adjustments of no working at unprotected heights, no over time and no lone working for more than an hour, my employer are now saying i am not aloud to do my current job and want me cut my hours and pay to be a cleaner. i am wanting advise on what adjustments they can put in place as i am raising an grievance against them for failure to make reasonable adjustments

Submitted by Serena on

Can my work place step me down in my position and reduce my pay if I don't agree but am 1hour and 45 mins per week short of my contracted hours due to my request for traveling to work and home each day (leaving home at 7am and getting back home at 7pm) thanks in advance for any help full info you may give

Submitted by Joanne Mills on

Hi Once your workplace knows you have epilepsy they need to do a risk assessment for you. If risks are identified they need to look at possible reasonable adjustments. These adjustments are negotiated between the two of you. If you need to do fewer hours due to travel needs your employer is likely only to pay you for the time you are at work.

Hope that makes sense.

Regards

Cherry  

Epilepsy Action Helpline Team

 

Submitted by rich on

hi my son has epilepsy. Its his first time in a job and works in a kitchen has kitchen help. He has had a seizure at work due to medication change they have had a meeting and told him they are putting him on a weeks probation and if they're is another seizure they are letting him go with a letter to his doctor saying he his unfit for work they have told him they reasons are he his a danger to himself and others can they do this

Submitted by Mrs sara jane c... on

Dear Sara Jane

Thank you for your question regarding your son’s work situation.

His employer may be within their rights to reassess his safety at work if further seizures happen.

Your son’s employer has a duty of care under the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974). This means that all employers have to provide a safe workplace. They must protect all their employees from any possible danger to their health while they are at work. If someone’s epilepsy poses a health or safety risk to themselves, their colleagues or anybody else, the employer must act on this information. So a risk assessment should be carried out to identify any risks should your son have a seizure while working.  From this assessment there may be some reasonable adjustments suggested so that your son can do the work safely while changing his medicine. If there is no adjustment to make the workplace safer, unfortunately his employer can dismiss your son on medical grounds, but they would have to be able to justify this.

Due to your son’s epilepsy he is likely to be covered by the Equality Laws (Equality Act in England, Scotland and Wales and the Disability Discrimination Act in Northern Ireland). This means his employer mustn’t discriminate against him unless they can justify this.

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. Our helpline is open Monday to Friday, 8.30am until 5.30pm.

Regards

Diane

Epilepsy Action Helpline Team

Submitted by Diane-Epilepsy ... on

I’m a nurse,
It was felt at my workplace following a provoked pit of the blue one off I may not return & this was unwise. As I’m sure you are I was devastated.
I went for an informal visit at a local hospital (licence loss etc).
The charge nurse said you’l always work with a second RN I’m baffled that a workplace said RNs can’t work after 1 seizure.
Stay strong I still nurse (Made some great mates on transport)1
We are human beings 1 in 26. Sending positive thoughts xxxx

Submitted by Becky on

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