Information on employing someone with epilepsy

13th December 2017

If you are an employer and you employ someone or are considering employing someone with epilepsy then you need to be aware of how their epilepsy might affect their work.

If you already employ someone with epilepsy, the first step is to talk to your employee and make sure you are fully informed about their epilepsy.

Some questions you might want to ask include:

  • What kind of epilepsy do you have?
  • Do you have seizures? And if so, how frequently?
  • Are there any warning signs before seizures?
  • Do your seizures cause you to lose consciousness?
  • What should be done in the event of a seizure? Does an ambulance need to be called?
  • Are there any triggers for seizures? Tiredness and stress are two common ones, for example.
  • Are they on any kind of medication? How does this affect them? If at all.  

It’s all about ensuring that you are as informed about your employee as possible so that you’re best placed to help them if they experience a seizure, or so that you can take measures to help them prevent one.

Carrying out risk assessments

This can vary massively from workplace to workplace. It’s important that you incorporate the needs of an employee with epilepsy into your workplace risk assessment. Some workplaces are safer than others, for example, a person with epilepsy will be more at risk if they:

  • Work at heights
  • The job involves heavy lifting and manual labour
  • Work takes place near water or electricity
  • They work alone
  • They are responsible for others and their safety

There are so many variables that we couldn’t possibly list them all here.

The Health and Safety at Work Act states that risk assessments should be:

  • Based on the individual’s circumstances, each workplace is different
  • Based on facts
  • Not made based on assumptions

It may be necessary to consult with a specialist or a health and safety expert to gain in-depth advice on employing someone with epilepsy in your workplace.

Equality in the workplace

Many people who have epilepsy are considered disabled, which means that they are covered by the Equality Act 2010. For an employer or a potential employer , his means many things, including

During recruitment and applications:

  • You are not allowed to ask any health-based questions of an applicant, in either written form or in person before a job has been offered.
  • People with a disability must be considered fairly and based only on their skills and qualifications.   

Note: Once a job has been offered it is reasonable and even helpful to ask questions about a disability such as epilepsy, as outlined above.

During employment, employers are required to make “reasonable adjustments” in the workplace to help someone with a disability. For someone with epilepsy this might include:

  • Additional safety measures
  • Avoiding working alone
  • Avoiding some tasks
  • Adapting or providing equipment that helps them to fulfil their role and time off for appointments.

There are many other factors that employers must take into consideration for an employee with epilepsy, which can include things like avoiding triggers and considerations for working with computers.

At National Epilepsy Training, we can provide epilepsy training courses in the workplace to ensure that you are fully able to manage someone with epilepsy and to help safeguard your current or future employees who have epilepsy. Start with our epilepsy awareness course


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