This page contains the questions employers frequently ask about epilepsy and employment.
1. What do I do if I find out that a person I have recently hired has epilepsy?
Use the opportunity to inform yourself about epilepsy. You’ll be amazed at how little it interferes with day-to-day living. Bear in mind that you or anyone of your employees could become disabled in the future due to accident or illness.
2. Are persons with epilepsy obliged to disclose their condition to employers?
They are only obliged to disclose their condition if they are specifically asked. They can only be asked as part of a medical examination.
3. Is it true that people with epilepsy have more absenteeism?
No. Evidence would suggest that, on average, people with epilepsy have fewer accidents at work than other employees, take less time off work and have good job loyalty records. It is important to note that people with epilepsy who are stable on medication may have very few or no seizures.
4. Can people with epilepsy work with machinery?
Yes. Epilepsy does not restrict a person from operating guarded machinery. If changes need to be made, there are grants available for adapting workplace equipment. See www.welfare.ie/en/Pages/WorkplaceEquipment-Adaptation-Grant.aspx
5. Do people with epilepsy have more accidents?
No. There is evidence to suggest they have fewer accidents, because they are more aware of potential hazards. Epilepsy does not usually force the employer to take extra safety precautions in the work place. People with epilepsy are generally very careful about their own well-being and are no more prone to accidents than anyone else
6. Are people with epilepsy less productive?
No. People with epilepsy, being aware of employers’ concerns over productivity, are often keen to prove that they are productive, reliable and valuable employees. The difficulty for them is securing the job in the first place. If an employee has a seizure at work, they usually only need a short rest, after which they can resume work as normal.
7. Are there higher work cover premiums for people with epilepsy?
No. It is often assumed that employing someone with epilepsy is ultimately going to result in an increased premium. This is not the case. No special insurance is required for a worker with epilepsy. At a basic level, employers should ensure that they are covered by Public Liability Insurance and Employers’ Liability. Premiums are only affected by claims, and there is no evidence to suggest claims increase by employing someone with epilepsy.
8. What do I do if someone has a seizure at work?
9. Is job accommodation for people with epilepsy expensive?
No. Most often, employers do not need to make any adjustments, and if changes need to be made, financial support is available.
10.Are people with epilepsy allowed to drive?
Yes, if seizure free for one year a person would be legally entitled to drive a car. For further information see link below. www.epilepsy.ie/index.cfm/spKey/info.rights_entitlements.html
11.How do I reassure my customers if an employee has a seizure at work?
Although observing a seizure can be disconcerting, the customer is likely to appreciate an employer who reacts with understanding and fairness towards an employee with epilepsy. Indeed, providing staff with first aid information could be advantageous in the event of a customer having a seizure.
12.Are people with epilepsy able to handle management positions?
Yes, if they have the job qualifications and skills for doing so.
13.What do I tell co-workers if I employ a person with epilepsy?
Anything to be said should be done in the presence of the employee with epilepsy. It might be a good time to have an open discussion about epilepsy and other disabilities in general. First Aid measures should also be dealt with. Epilepsy Awareness Training is available from Epilepsy Ireland.
14.Is stress in the work place a particular risk for people with epilepsy?
Stress is a very individual factor for anyone, regardless of whether they have epilepsy or not. For some people with epilepsy it can be a factor. Everyone is affected by stress to some degree, and everyone has to learn how to cope with it in his or her working life. As with all employees, a supportive working environment benefits everyone with their stress levels.
15.Are there any guidelines or principles for employing people with epilepsy?
Yes, but they have more to do with good practice rather than employing someone with epilepsy per se. The Employment Commission of the International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE) have produced a document entitled Principles for Good Practice in the Employment of People with Epilepsy. www.ibe-epilepsy.org/employing-people-with-epilepsy-principles-forgood-practice/
16.Where should people with epilepsy go to get support?
People with epilepsy may get support and advice from their GP, pharmacy and from Epilepsy Specialist Nurses connected to most main hospitals. Epilepsy Ireland provides a comprehensive range of support. We have Community Resource Officers who are available in all regions across Ireland offering individual support and advice in hospital and community settings as well as courses, programmes and seminars about managing epilepsy and specialised sessions for the newly diagnosed.
17.What are the myths about epilepsy?
A number of myths have grown up around epilepsy, probably dating from times when medical treatment was not as successful in treating the condition and from common historical portrayals of epilepsy and seizures
Contrary to popular belief, people with epilepsy can drive cars and use visual display units (VDUs). In fact, people with epilepsy can work in the vast majority of jobs, and have the same aspirations as other employees. Furthermore, employers rarely, if ever, incur extra costs through employing someone with epilepsy. One of the most common myths concerns the belief that extra insurance is needed when employing a person with epilepsy. It is often assumed that employing someone with epilepsy is ultimately going to result in an increased premium. This is not the case. No special insurance is required for a worker with epilepsy. Employers must also be aware of the implications of current legislation in relation to Employment Equality.
18.What is the relevant legislation relating to epilepsy in the workplace?
Employment Equality Act 1998 - 2005 An act to make further provision for the promotion of equality between employed persons. Equal Status Acts 2000 - 2015 Equal status act 2000 was an act to promote equality and prohibit types of discrimination, harassment and related behaviour. The Act has been amended by the Equality Act 2004, the Disability Act 2005 and the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008. They are known collectively as the Equal Status Act 2000 - 2015 Copies of relevant acts are available from Government Publications and on the internet at www.irlgov.ie