Our Communications Officer, David Coates looks at some of the good practices that employers can undertake to help their employees who are living with epilepsy.
As human beings, we all want to have a purpose in life and to feel valued. That applies to all aspects of life including our work.
For someone who lives with epilepsy and is trying to gain employment, these aims may seem incredibly difficult to achieve.
The challenges in their daily lives combined with those encountered or anticipated in the workplace may seem insurmountable. Equally, for someone already in work who is newly diagnosed with the condition, there may be anxiety about how they will manage their continued employment.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way. There are a number of good practice measures which can help employers and their employees to maintain a positive working relationship.
Using good practice towards people with living epilepsy can help an organisation to benefit from their skills and identify any issues early in order to avoid more significant problems developing further down the line.
This blog outlines some of the good practices that employers can undertake.
Healthy Working Lives
Useful forms for employers, including a health and safety policy, risk assessment forms, sickness absence and return to work forms including details of any reasonable adjustments are available for free at the Healthy Working Lives website.
The most important element of good practice is for employers to listen to employees with epilepsy and to communicate clearly.
People with epilepsy hold the best knowledge about their own abilities and the nature of their epilepsy.
They are well placed to tell you what, if anything, they need in order to carry out the job effectively.
As an employer, it is good practice to record disability and non-disability-related work absences separately.
With epilepsy, some work absences may appear to be unrelated, such as headaches, tiredness, and sore limbs, but they may actually be linked.
After a seizure, people with epilepsy can experience all of these symptoms and need time to recover.
A reasonable adjustment could involve a person with epilepsy being allowed more short-term work absences than are detailed in the general sickness policy.
Sickness policies need to be flexible to take into account the unique nature of epilepsy. Despite this, research shows that people with epilepsy usually have no more work absences than people who do not have epilepsy.
Epilepsy awareness in the workplace
A practical way of supporting an employee is to encourage epilepsy awareness among their supervisors and co-workers.
Epilepsy awareness in the workplace means giving employees an understanding of things such as:
- What epilepsy is
- Types of seizures
- Basic seizure first aid
- Common seizure triggers
Epilepsy often carries a social stigma, which is based on ignorance and fear. Understanding more about the condition and knowing what to do if someone has a seizure greatly helps reduce any anxieties.
You can find out what training courses Epilepsy Scotland provides by clicking here.
Workplace first aid
The first aid equipment and the number of first aiders or appointed persons you are legally required to have depends both on whether work activities are considered a high or low hazard and the size of the workforce.
The Health Safety Executive (HSE) does recommend providing first aiders with extra training if you have employees with disabilities or particular health problems on-site.
Employees whose epilepsy is not totally controlled may have a higher likelihood of seizures happening at work.
Knowing basic epilepsy first aid can help colleagues respond calmly and confidently when dealing with someone having a seizure.
The HSE has guidelines for assessing workplace first aid needs at https://www.hse.gov.uk/
Contact Epilepsy Scotland to learn more about epilepsy first aid training and further information on seizures by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on good practices for employers, please read our Occupational Health Guide.