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 automatically 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, 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 are not sure whether 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 and 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.
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 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 have to make any reasonable adjustment that could be helpful for you.
Telling people you work with
It’s your decision, whether you tell the people you work with about your epilepsy. But if you do, they will probably 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 awareness training for your colleagues.
Epilepsy Action has information about epilepsy awareness training
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.
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.
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