Epilepsy and work

From a legal point of view, no one who has epilepsy may be discriminated against on the basis of their disease:

Article 25.1 of Spanish Act 31/1995 stipulates: “Workers shall not be employed in positions in which, due to their personal characteristics, biological condition or duly acknowledged physical, mental or sensory disability, they may pose a risk to themselves, other workers and other people associated with the enterprise, or, generally speaking, when they are in a

temporary state or situation that does not comply with the mental and physical requirements for their respective positions of employment."

If a person has a seizure while working, they cannot be dismissed, although the work they do may be adapted to the characteristics of their disease.


Jobs that people with epilepsy are not allowed or not advised to do

Nevertheless, there are cases in which there are specific regulations that prevent people with epilepsy from doing a specific job. For example, the police, military,

aeroplane and helicopter pilots, firefighters, professional divers, prison wardens and security personnel who hold a firearms licence.

There is also a group of jobs that people with epilepsy are not banned from doing but which they are not advised to do because the tasks they perform are potentially dangerous for the worker or other people who depend on him/her (handling hazardous substances, rotating shift work, dangerous machinery, electrical systems, etc.).

These cases depend on the extent to which the patient's seizures are under control and the kind of seizures they suffer.


Finding a job 

In spite of this, statistics show that, generally speaking, people with epilepsy find it harder to find a job, despite the fact that around 70% to 80% of people who have this disease have no decrease in their skills or ability to hold down stable employment. That is one of the reasons why such people decide to conceal their disease.

It is different for the other 20%-30% of people who have uncontrolled epilepsy, which may be associated with physical or mental disorders. Unemployment is high for this group as in many cases employers have a misconception that they frequently have seizures and therefore are often on sick leave. Various studies have shown that the "accident rate" for people with epilepsy is similar to that of any healthy employee.


Disability benefits for epilepsy

In some cases the affected patient may claim disability benefits for epilepsy. The intensity, frequency and duration of seizures and how well they respond to treatment will determine whether they are classed as having total, absolute or major disability. This is because according to the Spanish Supreme Court, epilepsy "is a central nervous system disease with a wide range of nuances, degrees and seizures. Due to the varying intensity, frequency and duration of seizures it cannot be classified as a particular degree of disability. It may fall within the various degrees envisaged in article 135 so, in each particular specific case, the way in which the disease manifests will determine its seriousness and the repercussions it has for the patient's ability to be employed. It is necessary to distinguish between moderate, petit mal and grand mal seizures and whether seizures are spread out in time or episodic."  

Here is a link to the document published by the Andalusian Epilepsy Association on the rights you have if your epilepsy is classed as a disability.

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