All employers must make the workplace safe by law. To do this, they must protect all their employees from any possible danger to their health or safety while they are at work. Employees also have a legal responsibility to take reasonable care of their own health and safety and those around them. If an employee’s epilepsy could cause a health or safety risk while at work, they should tell their employer about it.
If an employee’s epilepsy is unlikely to be a health and safety risk, there is no legal duty for them to disclose it.
Research shows that safety is one of employer’s top concerns when employing someone with epilepsy. Safety concerns might include:
Over half of people with epilepsy in the UK are seizure free, as their seizures are controlled by medicine. If an employee is seizure-free there might not be any additional risks for them at work.
Health and safety laws say you have to have appropriate measures in place to reduce risks for all employees. The safety measures needed for people with epilepsy might not be any different than those you provide for everybody. Doing a risk assessment will tell you if there are any situations that might be riskier for your employee.
Employers have a duty by law to assess risks in the workplace.
There is no requirement to carry out a separate risk assessment for disabled employees. But because epilepsy affects everyone differently, a general disability risk assessment, by itself, is unlikely to identify suitable controls for an employee with epilepsy. You need to understand how epilepsy affects your employee and what the specific risks might be for them.
A risk assessment may identify that there are no additional safety measures needed for your employee. Or it could identify controls that would make work safer for all employees.
There’s no required legal timeframe for reviewing risk assessments. Your organisation may have a policy about how often they are reviewed. If your employee’s epilepsy changes you should review their risk assessment.
Most employers must have employer’s liability insurance to cover them against any claims if any employees are injured at work. Some employers are concerned that employing someone with epilepsy will increase the costs of employer’s liability insurance. Insurance brokers have told us that in their experience, employing disabled people does not affect employer’s liability premiums.
The cost of insurance depends on many factors, such as:
Many employees are now able to work from home. This can raise concerns about the risks of an employee having a seizure while they are working at home. The Health and Safety Executive has guidance about what employers should do to protect all homeworkers. If your employee works at home or would like to, include it in your risk assessment.
For some people with epilepsy, working at home may reduce tiredness and stress. If these are seizure triggers for your employee, working at home may help to reduce their seizures.
If an emergency evacuation was needed during or while recovering from a seizure, some employees may need help to evacuate the building. You should do a personal emergency evacuation plan (PEEP) to find out if they would need any assistance.
Some types of seizure are very brief and people don’t lose awareness. In this case they are not likely to need any help to evacuate in an emergency.
For some people with epilepsy, stress can trigger seizures. If the epilepsy risk assessment identifies that stress is an issue, you can do a specific stress risk assessment. The HSE’s management standards cover 6 areas of work that can affect stress. This risk assessment template and example can be used to identify the risks of stress to your employee and steps you can take to control them.
If you’d like to print the information on this webpage or see the information with references, download it here.