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.
Once you have been offered a job, you don’t have to tell your employer about your epilepsy. This is as long as you don’t believe it will affect your ability to do your job safely and effectively. This could be, for example, if your epilepsy is well controlled, or you only ever have seizures when you are asleep.
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, your employer would have to prove that:
- They have given you the opportunity to tell them how your epilepsy could affect your job and
- You haven’t provided this information
If you don’t know whether or not to tell your employer about your epilepsy, here are some things to think about.
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 have to provide a safe workplace. 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.
More information about the Health and Safety at Work Act is available from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Websites: hse.gov.uk (for England, Scotland or Wales); nidirect.gov.uk (for Northern Ireland)
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 your employer about your epilepsy, you will not be fully covered by their insurance. So,you may not receive any compensation if you have an accident related to your epilepsy.
More information about employer’s insurance is available from the Health and Safety Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Websites: hse.gov.uk (for England, Scotland or Wales); nidirect.gov.uk (for Northern Ireland)
When to tell your employer about your epilepsy
If you decide to tell your employer about your epilepsy, it’s useful to do it before you start the job. This gives the employer time to make any reasonable adjustments for you, if they are needed. If you don’t tell your employer 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 have to make any reasonable adjustments that could be helpful for you.
Your employer should not tell other people about your epilepsy, unless they have your permission. This is to comply with the Data Protection Act. If you do agree to let work colleagues know, you should sign a consent form. This gives your employer permission to tell one or more named people.
Telling people you work with about your epilepsy
It’s up to you if you want your colleagues to know about your epilepsy. Bear in mind that if people know about your epilepsy, they will usually feel more confident about helping you if you have a seizure.
If you think it would help, you could ask your employer to arrange some epilepsy training for your colleagues. The aim is to increase awareness and understanding of epilepsy. Contact Epilepsy Action for more information.
Care plans for seizures in the workplace
If there is a chance that you will have seizures at work, it is a good idea to prepare a care plan with your employer. The information can include what happens when you have a seizure and how people can help you during and afterwards.
The information that is collected in a risk assessment can be very helpful when preparing your care plan. Here are some examples of things to include in your care plan.
If you usually recover quickly after a seizure, you might be able to return straight 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 your recovery after a seizure usually takes a long time, you might need to go home. The care plan should say 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.
If you would like to see this information with references, visit the Advice and Information references section of our website. See Work and epilepsy.
Pay it forward
This resource is freely available as part of Epilepsy Action’s commitment to improving life for all those affected by epilepsy.
On average it costs £414 to produce an advice and information page – if you have valued using this resource, please text FUTURE to 70500 to donate £3 towards the cost of our future work. Terms and conditions. Thank you
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