Make March Purple for Epilepsy

For #MakeMarchPurple month we are bringing awareness to people with epilepsy with the help of our friends from Epilepsy Queensland.

Did you know: 

  • Every 33 minutes a life is turned upside down by epilepsy 
  • Around 1 in 10 people will experience a seizure in their lifetime 
  • For around half of those diagnosed with epilepsy, there is no identifying cause 
  • In ancient times, epilepsy and seizures were wrongly attributed to spirits and insanity 

If you have recently been diagnosed with epilepsy you will likely have hundreds of questions, with “can I work” somewhere on that list. If you are an employer, you may be looking for the best ways to support your employee and ensure a safe working environment. We posed some questions to Educators from Epilepsy Queensland for guidance on navigating employment and workplace safety.

Do I need to disclose my epilepsy to my employer? How about my coworkers?

Whilst there is no legal requirement for you to disclose your epilepsy to your employer or colleagues, if people in your workplace are aware of your condition, it may reduce risks associated with a seizure. 

It also allows them to be prepared to assist you if required and be aware of safety issues that may apply to you. If your direct supervisor/s are informed, they can then make reasonable accommodations for you should they be required. 

To comply with their responsibilities under the Workplace Health and Safety Act 2011, employers need to be aware of any condition that requires them to change working practices or the work environment to enhance safety. 

If you do choose to tell your employer, they are legally obligated to keep the information confidential and not reveal that information to anyone else without your permission.

Click here for a disclosure guide to help you to decide what will work best for you. It helps you to determine three things:

1. whether you need to tell your employer

2. when is a good time to tell your employer

3. how to tell your employer

I have epilepsy but want to look for a job, where do I start?

While people with epilepsy don’t always identify as having a disability, there are Australian Government specialist support programs, such as Job Access, available for people living with epilepsy who are looking for employment. 

Many organisations have proactive policies to encourage a diverse workforce, so knowing your options, rights and knowing how to speak about epilepsy could boost your chances of securing employment.

I have an employee with epilepsy, how can I support them in the workplace?

Epilepsy Queensland can assist with conversations with employers to help build an understanding of epilepsy. We also offer in-house or on-site training for Understanding Epilepsy and Seizure First Aid to help build understanding in the workplace and help employees feel comfortable in assisting someone who has a seizure.

Watch the video to learn more about seizure first aid.

Do you have any tips for people to stay safe at work?

There are many things you can do in the workplace to minimise risk, including: 

  • Identifying any risks that may apply to you 
  • Identifying modifications that can be made to improve safety? 
  • Considering disclosing your epilepsy to your colleagues and educating them in seizure first aid 
  • Keeping consistent work hours where possible, so your sleep patterns are not disrupted 
  • Limiting your exposure to flashing lights if this is a trigger for you 
  • Looking to minimise stress on the job – this is a common seizure trigger 
  • Exercising extra care around heights, water or machinery 

Make March Purple for epilepsy runs 1- 31 March, ahead of World Purple Day, March 26. Visit the Epilepsy Queensland website to learn more.

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