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of everyone affected by epilepsy

The Equality Act

This information about the Equality Act applies to people who live in England Scotland and Wales. If you live in Northern Ireland, see our information about the Disability Discrimination Act.

If you are looking for information about disability discrimination in another country, please contact your local epilepsy organisation.

The Equality Act came into force in October 2010. It protects people in England, Scotland and Wales from unfair discrimination because of their disability, race, religion or belief, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, sex, sexual orientation or age. These are known as protected characteristics. The message of the Equality Act is that everyone has the right to be treated fairly at work, or when using services.

The Equality Act has extra rules for government and other public organisations. They must have ‘due regard’ to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between different people when carrying out their activities. To ‘pay due regard to’ means they should try to achieve the aims, but they do not have a legal obligation to achieve them.

Am I considered to be disabled if I have epilepsy?

You are likely to be classed as disabled by the Equality Act if:

  • You have epilepsy that has a substantial effect on your day-to-day activities or
  • Your epilepsy would have a substantial effect if you were not taking your epilepsy medicine or
  • You have a type of epilepsy that is not currently causing any problems or needs epilepsy medicine, but could come back or 
  • Your epilepsy has lasted, or is expected to last, for at least 12 months

However, only a disability tribunal could say for certain whether your epilepsy means you  are classed as disabled under the Equality Act, or not.

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 Carl Graham, solicitor and partner in UK law firm DWF LLP for reviewing this information.

Carl Graham has declared no conflict of interest.

This information has been produced under the terms of The Information Standard.

  • Updated May 2016
    To be reviewed May 2019

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