What do people feel about telling prospective employers about epilepsy?

My 18-year-old son has epilepsy, though luckily his fits are infrequent - only one in the past two years despite not being on medication. He will be looking for a job soon. What do other people feel about telling employers about his condition? Obviously there are jobs he can't do, but plenty he can. Will it put employers off? At what stage should he mention it?

14 Replies

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  • Hi JPMB, It is up to your son whether he wishes to advise his employers if he has epilepsy or not. I worked for many years in the secretarial field (my epilepsy started at the age of 16, I started my first job at the age of 18), and never hid the fact from my employers. One can feel discriminated depending on the employers reaction, but I have always felt one must be honest and not hide the fact. I trust he will find employment and whatever position he takes on, may he be happy.

  • Lesmal,

    Many thanks for your response. I think large organisations and government departments are probably very good about this, but I suspect it might hinder him getting a job with a smaller firm, or for instance a business which depended on customer service and presentation, such as catering. Many thanks for your good wishes.

  • I have always told everyone and work with children i feel honesty is the best policy as some people still think metal spoons in the mouth during a seizure is the done thing! I am 32 and have never had any at work but better safe than sorry :

  • Lotti, thanks for getting back to me. I do agree about honesty - I just wonder at what point he needs to tell people? If it put employers off, he would probably be better keeping that bit of info until after the job offer. But I do see your point about letting people know what they have to do if he has a seizure. Thanks for your response.

  • Some jobs require you to disclose health in the application. You could always use this to your advantage by reminding them (in non threatening manner) at the point of application that they are required to interview people with disabilities who otherwise meet the job description. Also arm your son with as much information about disability law at the start of his working life as you can.

    A letter from his doctor explaining how epilepsy affects him may help to reassure at interview.

    In the spirit of International Epilepsy Awareness Day I of course advise to help raise awareness wherever possible! However I wouldn't blame you if you wanted to keep quiet until after he has the job!

  • Many thanks - I think the idea of a letter from his doctor is a very good one. And certainly the DDA is worth being aware of.

  • I agree with lotti. I had to battle for twelve and a half years to get my first job, but I never failed to inform employers that I was epileptic, even though I was only a Petit Mal sufferer. I always held the opinion that if I wasn't honest at the beginning I would be dragged over the coals by the employer when the epilepsy came into the limelight. Sadly back in those days Joe Public only had one impression of epilepsy, no matter how hard I fought the corner, so the letter of refusal became part of the routine. In the latter four years of that job hunt I had underwent the temporal lobe surgery, but not even a letter from my surgeon could sway anyone's opinion, but I have noticed a completely different attitude thesedays.

    I do think your son has a lot better chance that I had of finding his first job, as he now has things like the DDA to support him. As long as he is sensible with his search, always asking himself "Could I really do that with my condition?" he will have as much chance as the next person. I wish him well.

  • Many thanks. I'm sure you're right that people are more enlightened now. Certainly his school has always been brilliant.

  • Id get the job first then mention it especially if it is infrequent I have had so much trouble over the years and still am now with theNHS! Of all firms?! Once you are in it is hard for them to sack you !

  • Thanks for getting back to me. How ironic about the NHS.......................Good luck with it!

  • Hi,

    I have always waited until the end of the interview to advise them and explained to them how this would effect them and my ability to work. I think the comment above suggesting a letter from his Dr / consultant could be a good idea. Also make sure he knows his rights.

    Hope this helps

  • Timsgirl and Diamond36 - thank you both very much for your views. I think the idea of waiting till the end of the interview is good. As I said in an earlier post, in a big govt department, I don't think he would be at such a disadvantage - tho' I'm surprised, Timsgirl, about the NHS. How ironic! But I think he will be disadvantaged when applying for jobs with smaller firms - I would understand if they didn't want to take the risk. But the DDA will be a great help, I'm sure. Thanks for all your advice.

  • Hi

    What I did when filling in application forms for interviews, and it asked you if there was any disabilities that you had? I put will discuss in interview, just so they didn't give my interview to anyone else. I found it easier to talk about it rather than write.....plus there is the Disability Discrimination Act, which I knew a lot about, as I was a H&S Rep with Unison. I did get a good response from them the way I went about it. You don't have to tell them that you have Epilepsy but if you don't then you put yourself at risk in the workplace.

    Hope that helps

    Sandy

  • Hi there, a very good and concerning question/ SandyH has I feel put it totally elaborated over your rights - There is still stigma and possible always will be, however with time things are changing and as she so rightly said you have the Disability Discrimination Act behind you. Yet sadly due to fact the Country is facing with cut backs in all care areas and local Councils - prospective employers can be crafty and use this for their own benefit. The Disability law Society in London has literally had a huge influx over the same problem. Just tap it in your search engine and all will come up. The main calls they receive are from those being made redundant or dismissed in the passed few years - the lawyers are inundated with calls and advise. I am not politically minded yet any further right we go - we and many others will slowly yet surely find living far harder than ever before I can recall. Thanks Sandy.

    Yet do not let this put you off - we are human with many valuable skills and I do not feel I am disabled - rather able to do many things however I am limited. Hope this is encouraging.

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