Telling work about your epilepsy

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.

Do I have to tell an employer about my epilepsy?

You don’t automatically have to tell your employer about your epilepsy, after a job offer, if you don’t believe it will affect your ability to do your job safely and effectively. An example could be that your epilepsy is well controlled, or you only ever have sleep seizures.

If you don’t tell your employer about your epilepsy and it does affect your ability to do your job safely, your employer may be able to dismiss you. To do this, they would have to prove that:

  • You have been given the opportunity to tell them how your epilepsy could affect your job and
  • You haven’t given them this information

If you’re not sure whether to tell your employer about your epilepsy, here are some things to think about:

Reasonable adjustment

If your employer doesn’t know about your epilepsy, they can’t make any reasonable adjustments to help you.

Health and Safety at Work Act

The Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) is a law that says that all employers must provide a safe workplace. To do this, they must protect all their employees from any possible danger to their health while they are at work. As an employee, you also have a responsibility to take reasonable care of your own and other people’s health and safety at work. If your epilepsy could cause a health or safety risk to you or anybody else, you must tell your employer about it. This is the law.   

Employer’s insurance

Your employer’s insurance may pay you compensation if you are injured at work, or if you become ill because of your work. If you don’t tell them about your epilepsy, you won’t be fully covered by their insurance. So, you might not receive any compensation if you have an accident related to your epilepsy.

However, you are protected by the equality laws from the time you tell your employers you have a disability. So, if your seizures have previously been controlled, but start again, you can tell your employer then, and ask them to do a health and safety risk assessment.

More information about the Health and Safety at Work Act and employer’s insurance is available from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) (for England, Scotland and Wales) or nidirect.gov.uk (for Northern Ireland)

When is it a good time to tell people about my epilepsy?

Your employer

If you decide to tell your employer about your epilepsy, it’s a good idea to do it before you start the job. This gives them time to make any reasonable adjustments you need. If you don’t tell them about your epilepsy before you start a job, you can change your mind and tell them at any time. As soon as your employer knows about your epilepsy, they should look to put in place reasonable adjustments that would reduce or remove any disadvantage caused by your disability.

The people you work with

It’s your decision, whether you tell the people you work with about your epilepsy. But if you do, they may feel more confident about helping you if you have a seizure.

If you think it would help, ask your employer to arrange some epilepsy awareness training for your colleagues. 

Can my employer tell other people about my epilepsy? 

Yes, if you give them permission, and sign a consent form. But they can’t tell other people about your epilepsy without your permission. This is to comply with the Data Protection Act.

A checklist can be a helpful tool for your employer when speaking to colleagues about your epilepsy. 

 

If you would like to know where our information is from, download a copy of this information with references.

Code: 
B135.07

Epilepsy Action would like to thank Liam Kinealy, solicitor at Spencer’s Solicitors for his contribution to this information.

Liam Kinealy has declared no conflict of interest.

  • Updated December 2020
    To be reviewed December 2023

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