Are there any jobs off-limits to people with epilepsy?

22nd August 2019

Within reason, there are very few jobs that should be off-limits to people with epilepsy. An employer can not legally use your epilepsy as a reason to not give you a job. It is also important that employers are willing to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate you should they be needed. 

There are however a few exceptions where an employer may have a very good reason not to give you a job due to your epilepsy, including:

The armed forces

Currently, all branches of the armed forces (army, RAF and navy) aren’t covered by equality laws which means they can refuse to employ people with disabilities, including epilepsy. If your seizure history is distant then you may be accepted for some roles in the armed forces, however, you must have been seizure-free for over 5 years and can not have taken any medications (AEDs) within that time frame. 

Health and safety reasons

If it is accepted that your epilepsy may put yourself or others at risk then an employer can legally refuse to give you a job (or keep you in your current one). This is quite common when working at heights, such as climbing ladders, for example. 

Driving

If your seizures prevent you from holding a valid driving licence and driving is a key part of the job, then it’s reasonable to assume that an employer will be legally allowed to deny you that job. This can be particularly true where the handling of heavy goods vehicles is required as this type of licence can not be held unless you have been seizure-free for over 10 years. 

Do I need to tell potential new employers about my epilepsy?

In general, employers are not allowed to ask you about your health before they offer you the job without good reason. For example, questions about your previous sickness absences are supposed to be out of bounds during the application process. 

The only time it’s deemed acceptable for a potential employer to ask about your health is if it has a direct impact on the role. For example, if there was a certain aspect of a role that you couldn’t complete due to your epilepsy, it’s reasonable to expect questions about that. Also, if you know that your epilepsy may impact your ability to complete any aspect of the role, it’s best to bring it up during the application process. 

Therefore, it’s up to you whether you mention your epilepsy during the application and interview process. Should you be hired for the job you will likely be asked to complete a medical questionnaire, at this stage, it’s essential that you do cite your epilepsy so that your employer can be prepared and make any reasonable adjustments. 

National Epilepsy Training can help

Finding a new job with epilepsy should not prove much more challenging than it does for anybody else. For more advice on employment and epilepsy, please feel free to get in touch. Call us on 01706 373075 or email admin@nationalepilepsytraining.co.uk