Many people work on shifts which involve them doing night shifts, working through the night when they would normally be sleeping. Whilst this may be acceptable for most of the population of night shift workers, this can be a problem for people with epilepsy as a major disruption to sleeping patterns can be responsible for an increase in seizure activity.
Night shift work can majorly disrupt circadian rhythms and can lead to people with epilepsy experiencing more frequent seizures. It’s not advised that people with epilepsy undertake roles which will require them to work night shifts for this reason.
Under the Equality Act 2010, employers are required by law to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ so that a person with a disability, such as epilepsy, is not at a disadvantage. What this means is that, if possible, your employer should make adjustments to allow you to continue working without the need to do night shifts.
Of course, there are some job roles where this might not be possible and therefore not considered “reasonable”, such as in cases where a job has to take place at night by necessity and can not be done during the day instead.
You can apply for jobs that require night shift work. This is also covered under the Equality Act 2010 and ensures that people with disabilities are not at a disadvantage when applying for jobs. Again, the success of your application may depend on how crucial night shift work is to the role you’re applying for. Potential employers are expected to make the same ‘reasonable adjustments’ for new employees as they are for existing employees.
Of course, this is assessed on a case-by-case basis and your own particular situation may not be the same as someone else’s. If the night shift work is deemed crucial to the advertised role you may, unfortunately, be turned down on the basis of your epilepsy and the increased risk of seizures in an unsafe environment.
There is no straight answer to this question, unfortunately. Reasonable adjustments depend entirely on the situation and is based on some guidelines which include:
It’s worth remembering that a person’s epilepsy can change over time so reasonable adjustments may need to be re-assessed as time goes on.