How epilepsy affects work

Most people with well-controlled epilepsy said that finding suitable employment was not usually a problem. One man explained how supportive people at work had been, even when he lost his driving licence after a status epilepticus episode. Sometimes seizures do not stop, or one seizure follows another without the person recovering in between. If this goes on for 30 minutes or more it is called status epilepticus, or ‘status’. He also discussed some of the ways employers can discriminate against people with epilepsy.

Several people discussed the support and empathy they'd had from colleagues. A few also mentioned giving information to employers and colleagues so that they would know what to do if they had a seizure.

People often discussed when to tell employers about their condition. Many of those interviewed said that, when employers do not know much about epilepsy, it can frighten them. Often people told employers about their epilepsy when they had been offered the job. One woman, however, had told employers about her epilepsy shortly after starting the job. She also noted that her epilepsy had not prevented her from getting promoted.  

One man explained that, although he had told all those people who needed to know at work, he was wary of telling everyone. Another discussed how he did not tell employers about his epilepsy and his concerns about doing so in professional occupations.

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For some, having seizures had led to problems at work or to losing their jobs (see 'Epilepsy - driving and transport'). One man described how his epilepsy had affected his work as a solicitor. Another discussed how it had led him to leave his job in the police force. One woman had taken an employer to a tribunal and discussed some of the problems she had encountered at work when she was having a lot of seizures. Another woman explained that she had agreed to leave her job when her seizures recurred.

The effects of medication on concentration and performance at work were also of concern to some, particularly those with poorly-controlled epilepsy. One man felt that he had lost several jobs because of his inability to concentrate. Others explained how stress and pressure often brought on seizures, and they felt restricted in the jobs they could pursue. People also discussed how work affected their confidence and self-esteem.

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Some people found it difficult to get jobs, particularly if their epilepsy was poorly-controlled. One woman was declared unfit to work and she described how this affected her life. A man said that he was now wary of changing jobs because finding work had been difficult in the past.

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Several people with poorly-controlled epilepsy had found it difficult to get work and benefited from doing voluntary work. One man, who had non-epileptic seizures, was working on a 'therapeutic earnings' basis (a flexible arrangement that allows people to work what they can manage and be paid a certain number of hours).

Last reviewed May 2016.
Last updated May 2016.



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