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of everyone affected by epilepsy

Epilepsy survey highlights unfair prejudice at work

5 April, 2005

Around a third
of people in the UK with epilepsy have experienced prejudice from their
employer and nearly half are reluctant to change jobs because they fear
encountering prejudice elsewhere, according to a survey carried out by
the National Society for Epilepsy (NSE).

The
level of prejudice perceived to be shown by employers has changed
little, the NSE says, since it last carried out a similar survey three
years ago.

The
survey was carried out with SHL, a producer of psychometric tests for
employers, who assessed a cross-section of people with epilepsy
including some people with active epilepsy and people who had undergone
surgery to bring their seizures under control.

The
group of people with epilepsy undertook online psychometric tests which
were evaluated and compared with a similar group of people who did not
have the condition.

There
was no marked difference between the two groups, meaning people with
epilepsy are just as likely to perform as well their colleagues when
handling numerical and verbal information. However, latest evidence
based on the research suggests employers are wrong to take such a
narrow-minded view.

Margaret Thomas, assistant director (communications) at the NSE, said:

'Needless
to say, we weren't surprised at this finding, but we know many people
with epilepsy have experienced prejudice in the workplace, with bosses
assuming that people with epilepsy are less able in the workplace than
those without the condition.

'We
were keen to take up the challenge with SHL to prove the point that
people with epilepsy are just as able as any other equally qualified
person to undertake almost any employment. There are now very few
exceptions in which as person with epilepsy may not be suitable for a
particular job - and this is based on safety grounds rather than
ability.'