Unique Workplace Guide to Epilepsy Scotland

From today, employers can use a free occupational health guide to help existing staff members or new recruits with epilepsy.  This handy new resource covers legal responsibilities and how to handle the most common workplace issues.

Epilepsy Scotland Chief Executive Lesslie Young commented: “We devised this unique guide to make life easier both for those in HR/Personnel and employees who develop seizures.  Our helpline callers repeatedly told us of organisations where working practices fell short of providing the best support possible.  This prompted us to partner with occupational health experts in the public, private and voluntary sector and produce this practical tool for employers. 

“This is the UK’s first occupational health guide to epilepsy.   It showcases examples of good practice.  The specific condition guide explains how a prompt and appropriate occupational health assessment, clear communications with an employee, and a customised risk assessment for their duties also benefits the organisation.

“Sixty years ago it was often difficult to find or keep a job if you had epilepsy or it was not well controlled.  Epilepsy is no longer a reason to be excluded from the job market.  We are delighted that the Society of Occupational Medicine sees this innovative guide as an enhancement to good practice.   It is an honour to have the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, Nicola Sturgeon as our guest speaker at tonight’s Scottish Parliament reception to highlight this guide.”


Notes to editor

1.  Photo opportunity

Photos will be available at 6.55pm in Committee Room 3 of the Scottish Parliament with guest speakers Chief Executive Lesslie Young (Epilepsy Scotland), Dr Freddie Westbrook (Serco), Chief Inspector Ross Bennet (Fife Constabulary), Chief Executive Hilary Todd (Society of Occupational Medicine) and the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing Nicola Sturgeon MSP.

 2.   Epilepsy Scotland works with people affected by epilepsy to ensure that their voice is heard.  We campaign for improved healthcare, better information provision and an end to stigma.  This common serious neurological condition affects one in 130 people.  We represent the 40,000 people with epilepsy, their families and carers.  Our freephone Helpline (0808 800 2200) offers advice, support and information.  People can text 07786 209501, email enquiries@epilepsyscotland.org.uk or visit www.epilepsyscotland.org.uk

 3.  There are an estimated 241,692 people of working age with epilepsy in the UK.  Epilepsy studies into unemployment and underemployment show rate variations of 12-25 per cent against 5-9 per cent for the general population.  People with epilepsy are more likely to be employed in unskilled and manual jobs and these workers are more likely to lose their jobs after seizures start. 

 4.  Research shows employers can be reluctant to hire or promote a person with epilepsy for health and safety reasons.  Epilepsy stigma is another factor, and up to 47 per cent of people with epilepsy report enacted discrimination at work.  Employer and co-worker attitudes critically determine how people with epilepsy are viewed in terms of their employment status.

 5.  The epilepsy and occupational health guide working group included Morag Clark, Clinical Occupational Health Manager (Strathclyde Police)  Dr Katharine Cryer, Consultant Occupational Health Physician and Dr Freddie Westbrook, Consultant Occupational Physician (Serco Occupational Health), Dr Robert Sharpe, Consultant Chartered Psychologist, Dr Frederick G Taylor, Senior Consultant Occupational Physician (Bcerta Occupational Health, Glasgow), Anissa Tonberg, Policy and Development Manager, Christine Whiteside, HR and Office Manager and Lesslie Young, Chief Executive (Epilepsy Scotland).  The Scottish Government and pharma company Eisai supported the guide’s development.

 6.  Epilepsy Scotland offers best practice certificates to responsible employers. Employer of the Year winners: Fife Constabulary and the Scottish Parliament.

 7.  For more details and case studies (Glasgow and Fife) please contact: Allana Parker, Communications Manager on: 0141 427 4911 or 07884 012 147.

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