Answering young people’s questions about work, employment and epilepsy.
Jobs, epilepsy and the law
If you are employed (full time or part time) and have epilepsy, the Equality Act 2010 (opens new window) protects you from being treated unfairly. The Equality Act covers you when you apply for a job, through the interview to getting the job and continues to cover you once you are working.
The Equality Act means that most employers can't refuse you a job just because you have epilepsy. However, by law they must also ensure the safety of all their employees.
To do this, an employer may need to find out more about your epilepsy and how it actually affects you. For example, whether you still have seizures, and if so, whether your seizures could be a safety risk to you or others at work, or if they could affect your ability to do the job.
An employer can ask you for permission to contact your doctor if they feel they need more information about your epilepsy.
What jobs can I do?
If you have the right qualifications or experience and your seizures don't put you or the people you work with at risk then you should be able to apply for most jobs.
If you have seizures, you may not be able to do jobs that risk your safety or the safety of other people. These include:
- jobs that involve driving
- working at heights, near open water or fire
- working with unguarded machinery.
Whether or not you can work on active service in the Armed Forces (Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy) depends on your epilepsy. For example, if you have epilepsy now you wouldn’t be able to join the Armed Forces. If you had epilepsy as a child (under five years old) or a single seizure more than ten years ago, you may be able to join.
If I'm applying for a job do I have to mention my epilepsy?
No you don't have to, but for safety reasons it can be a good idea to tell an employer about your epilepsy.
Employers can only ask you questions about your health to help keep you and others safe at work and to help you to be able to do your job. An exception to this is that they can ask you whether you need any special requirements to help you get the job, for example to help you attend an interview. Some people decide they will tell an employer about their epilepsy when they are offered the job. If you tell your employer, you can talk to them about how your epilepsy affects you so that they treat you fairly and support you at work.
If I'm already working, do I have to tell my colleagues?
You don't have to tell anyone at work about your epilepsy, but there are reasons why it can be helpful:
- You can tell your colleagues how you would like them to help you if you have a seizure at work.
- If you feel something at work is making your epilepsy worse you may want to talk to colleagues about it.
- If you need to take time off work for doctors appointments and you would like these recorded separately from sick leave.
- If you need to stop driving, work colleagues may ask you why.
If you develop epilepsy, or if epilepsy is making your work difficult, the Equality Act 2010 means that your employer is expected to consider making 'reasonable adjustments' so that you can continue to work. For example, they might be able to change your working hours to be more flexible if a seizure leaves you too tired to come in to work at your usual time.
See more about work and epilepsy.
Taken from our Your epilepsy - now and next leaflet. Order this leaflet from our online shop as part of our 'first five free' offer.
This information was reviewed by Professor Matthias Koepp, Professor of Neurology, Unversity College London and Epilepsy Society. Epilepsy Society is also grateful to the young people who helped develop this information.