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    Work and volunteering

    Fast facts

     

    Woman shaking hands in a job interview

    Top tips

    1. 1
      Think about what you want to tell employers about your epilepsy and how you will explain it during a job interview
    2. 2
      When applying for work, look for employers that say they are Disability Confident. This gives you a guaranteed interview if you meet the essential job requirements and are happy to declare that you have a disability
    3. 3
      If you’re signing on at a jobcentre, you’ll have a work coach. It may help to assume your work coach knows nothing about epilepsy. You will need to explain exactly how it affects you and your ability to work
    4. 4
      Give your work coach a copy of the Epilepsy Action booklet ‘Work and epilepsy’. It will help them to understand about epilepsy. Link in More info below

    Sadly some people have bad experiences with employers.

    I’m 17 and haven’t had much success finding part time work. I’ve had feedback from interviews that I don’t have enough experience, but I think they don’t want me because of my epilepsy.”

    I work in a kitchen. I had a focal seizure whilst carrying a knife and gave everyone a scare. Then they reduced my hours saying it would be better for me. I couldn’t afford my bills so I had to move back in with my mum.”

    Do I have to tell my employer I have epilepsy?

    Employers aren’t generally allowed to ask you questions about your health before they offer you the job

    There are some circumstances in which they can ask these questions. An example is if they need to make reasonable adjustments for your interview

    Once you have been offered a job, you don’t automatically have to tell your employer about your epilepsy

    If your seizures are well controlled or you only have sleep seizures your epilepsy may not affect your ability to do your job safely

    If you don’t tell your employer and epilepsy affects your ability to do your job safely, they may be able to dismiss you

    Support at work

     

    Man at work in a server room

    Reasonable adjustments

    Reasonable adjustments are things your employer could do to help you at work.

    Here are some young people’s experiences of reasonable adjustments:

    My seizures are usually early in the morning. I agreed with my manager that I could start a bit later and have a shorter lunch break.”

    I work alone a lot, at different sites. My employer provided me with a fall alarm and a security company responds if it goes off, or they call an ambulance.”

    I work in retail. My employer changed some of my duties so I don’t do things that they think are too risky. For example, I don’t lock up by myself at the end of the day, I always lock up with someone else.”

    I used to work night shifts, but I realised my seizures were triggered by tiredness. My boss helped me to change onto day shifts.”

     

    There’s lots of other things your employer could do, such as alterations to the building, changing your workspace or giving you more time to do tasks. Many reasonable adjustments don’t cost anything. If there is a cost, your employer might be able to get funding from Access to Work to help pay for it. They should never ask you to pay.

    Young male carer making a home visit

    Access to Work

    Access to Work is a government scheme to help people with the costs of the support they need to help them work.

    Epilepsy awareness training

    If your colleagues would benefit from epilepsy awareness training, here’s some things that can help:

    What to do when someone has a seizure – A free online course that shows different seizure types and first aid

    In-person training – Epilepsy Action can provide tailored training for employers and colleagues

    Show them the first aid page on The Epilepsy Space or Epilepsy Action’s website

     

     

    Stories by you

    Read Paige’s experience of telling an employer she had epilepsy during a job interview.

    Read how Michelle got the job she wanted as a Police officer.

    Watch

    Work and epilepsy - Expectation Vs Reality by Derrick Kay

    Volunteering

    Volunteering is a great way to get some work experience, develop your skills and help others at the same time. There are loads of different things you could do, depending on your interests.

    Many universities and colleges have student volunteering opportunities. Contact your student support services to find out how it’s organised where you study.

    Do-it UK lets you search for opportunities online. It will also help you find your nearest volunteer centre.

    Do something

    If you’re not working

    How does your epilepsy affect the jobs you might do? Have there been any ideas on this page about support that employers might be able to offer, to help you find a job?

     

    If you are working

    Have you got the support you need at work to manage your epilepsy and do your job safely and effectively? If not, what else could you talk to your manager about?

    Waitress working in a cafe

    More info

    More info about work on the Epilepsy Action website

    Work

    Get a copy of the ‘Work and epilepsy’ booklet from the Epilepsy Action shop

    Work and epilepsy booklet

    More info about joining the armed forces on the Epilepsy Action website

    Armed forces

    More info about driving on the Epilepsy Action website

    Driving

    Epilepsy in the workplace – A guide by Epilepsy Action and the TUC

    TUC guide

    Access to Work is a government scheme to help people with the costs of the support they need to help them work

    Access to Work

    Youth Employment UK has information about career choices and job search advice

    Youth Employment UK

    Do-it UK lets you search for opportunities online. It will also help you find your nearest volunteer centre

    Do It UK
    Updated 12 May 2020
    Review 12 May 2023
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