International Epilepsy Day is an event every year which promotes awareness of epilepsy. People come together to highlight the challenges that individuals with epilepsy face at work and in their lives.
Even though it has been one of the world’s most known medical conditions for many years, public fear and misunderstanding persist. As a result, people are reluctant to talk about it.
It is essential to raise awareness about epilepsy for people to better understand individual risks and discrimination in the workplace and community.
Am I protected by the law?
The bursts of electrical activity that happen in the brain can cause people with epilepsy to have seizures. However, for many people living with epilepsy, discrimination can be more challenging than the seizures themselves. Whether somebody’s epilepsy affects their work depends on if they have episodes, their seizures, and how often they occur. It also depends on what type of work they do and what their working environment looks like. Two laws apply to employees when it comes to epilepsy:
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 outlines the employer’s responsibility to ensure all employees are safe at work. Employees are also responsible for their health and safety at work. If an individual has seizures, they might not be able to do jobs that risk their own and others’ safety, such as driving vehicles or handling knives in a kitchen. For this reason, individuals who are already in a job might want to talk to their employer, colleagues or HR department about how they are feeling.
Epilepsy is classed as a disability by the Equality Act 2010. Therefore, people with epilepsy are protected by the law against discrimination at work and in the community.
Could I lose my job?
People who are already in a job and develop epilepsy might be worried about losing their jobs during their employment. The Equality Act ensures that people with disabilities are not treated unfairly in comparison to people without disabilities.
Employers are expected to make reasonable adjustments for their employees. Some adjustments might be temporary, and some might need change over time, depending on how an individual’s epilepsy is being treated. The severity of the symptoms varies from person to person: some people might have regular seizures, while others could stop experiencing them with the right medication.
Who can I talk to?
To help you understand your rights and responsibilities at work and in your life, we have put together a useful resource list:
Epilepsy is usually a life-long condition, but it can improve over time. To learn more about epilepsy, you can read our dedicated page on our website.