Work and employment
Having epilepsy does not necessarily stop someone from doing the job they want, but there are some issues which can affect them at work.
Whether someone’s epilepsy affects their work depends on whether they have seizures, what their seizures are like and how often these happen. It also depends on the type of work they do, and any risks that having seizures at work might bring.
Two important laws that apply to employment are the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Equality Act 2010.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 says that employers are responsible for making sure that all their employees are safe at work and are protected from possible dangers to their health. This includes making sure that the job and the work environment are safe and has no health risks. Employees are also responsible for their own safety at work, and the safety of their work colleagues.
Whether someone's with epilepsy is affected by this legislation will depend on the type of work they do, whether they have seizures, what their seizures are like and how often they happen.
If you have seizures, you may not be able to do jobs that risk your safety or the safety of other people. As with anybody, the type of work you can do depends on your skills, qualifications and experience. It may also depend on how your epilepsy affects you.
Could I lose my job?
If you are already in a job and you develop epilepsy or if your epilepsy changes and starts to cause problems at work, you might be worried about losing your job.
The Equality Act aims to make sure that people with a disability are not treated unfairly compared to a person without a disability, because of their disability and without a good reason. Under the Equality Act, your employer is expected to consider making reasonable adjustments so that you can carry on working.
If you develop epilepsy or if your seizures are difficult to control, your doctor may refer you to a specialist to review your epilepsy. The review may help you to make decisions about your job. For example, it may help to identify reasonable adjustments for you. Some adjustments may be temporary while your epilepsy is being reviewed or treated, and some adjustments may need to change over time.
One of the key points to remember about epilepsy is that it varies from person to person. While some people have regular seizures, up to 70% of people with epilepsy could stop having seizures (with the right medication) so their epilepsy may have little or no effect on their work.
Who can I talk to?
You may want to talk to your line manager or to someone in your personnel or human resources department, if you have one, about how you are feeling. Talking about any problems or concerns you have might help them to support you or to look for reasonable adjustments that would help you.