Employees’ Guide to Epilepsy in the Workplace

August 5, 2011

Think about the job you have. What are the duties? What qualifications did you need to get it?

Consider carefully each of the following issues. If any of them do affect your job performance, what reasonable accommodations can would reduce or eliminate their impact? These questions may come up after you have disclosed your epilepsy.

  • If you cannot drive, is there transportation available to get you to work?
  • What kind of seizures do you have?
    • How often do you have them?
    • What happens when you have a seizure?
    • How do you feel after a seizure?
    • Do you have a warning before your seizure?
  • Are you satisfied with your seizure control?
    • How often do you take medication?
    • Do you take your medications as prescribed?
    • Do you have any side effects from the medication you take?
    • Does your medication affect your memory?
  • Do you have a regular doctor?
    • How often do you see your doctor?
    • Does your doctor support your job goal?
  • What, if anything, is likely to bring on your seizures?
    • Do you have more frequent seizures if you are under stress?
  • Who knows that you have epilepsy?
  • Will your epilepsy have an impact on your ability to do any essential part of the job?
    • If so, are there reasonable accommodations which can be made to reduce or eliminate the impact? (Refer to the Accommodation section of this manual.)

Keeping your Job

So you’ve finally gone through the daunting process of looking for a job, applying to various positions and attending interviews. Finally, you’ve landed the position you set out to get. Now what?

Although you are now an employee, you may have a probation period or training period, during which you want to establish yourself as a successful employee. You want to show that you are hardworking, conscientious, an asset to the company and (eventually) a candidate for promotion.

Now that you have the job, it’s up to you to keep it. Remember that employees can be fired for just causes, such as excessive absences, poor job performance and insubordination.

Focus on the actions you can take to succeed in the workplace. As you become more familiar with your work and begin to develop good relationships with co-workers, your anxiety will subside. Enjoy your work!

Employers’ Expectations

To succeed in the workplace, you must know what your employer wants. An employer has three basic justifiable expectations of you as an employee.

  1. You can fulfill your job duties. An equal opportunity employer has based the decision to hire you solely on your qualifications. You probably will not have to know how to perform every function of the job immediately. In most places however, you will get a reasonable amount of time to learn new skills and acquire the necessary knowledge to successfully finish the job as expected. During this orientation period, demonstrate your work habits and take responsibility for learning the job.
  2. You will not be absent regularly. The employer needs you to complete tasks in a timely manner. Frequent and unjustifiable absences may cause unreasonable delays on your assigned work and cause problems. Demonstrate regular and prompt attendance. Return from breaks on time.
  3. You will “fit in” and cooperate with colleagues. Employers are concerned with employees who waste time because of their inability to get along with co-workers. Your ability to develop good relationships will also make the job more pleasant, interesting and fulfilling for you.

What Not to Do

Here are some of the most frequently mentioned complaints of employers and supervisors. We are all guilty of some of them from time to time. However, you may be fired for regular infractions. At the very least, you may miss overtime, pay raises and promotions.

To do well in your job and get along with your co-workers, don’t let yourself fall into these bad habits:

  • frequently missing work or being habitually late
    • always being the first one out the door at the end of the day
    • leaving early for lunch or breaks and coming back late
    • constantly watching the clock
  • being too aggressive with your supervisor or co-workers
    • acting superior to your co-workers and boss
  • talking to your supervisor or co-workers when they are busy
  • expressing anger when work is constructively criticized
    • taking comments about your work personally
    • being extremely sensitive to comments made by co-workers or supervisors
  • letting your emotions influence your work
  • treating people unfairly
  • ignoring company policies and rules (including safety)
  • always trying to gain personal advantage
    • taking credit for a group effort
    • always making excuses when there are problems
    • blaming others for your own mistakes
  • asking a lot of unnecessary questions
  • complaining all the time
    • always complaining about your job, boss, or co-workers
    • complaining to higher management before talking to your immediate supervisor
  • doing personal tasks during working hours, such as reading magazines or making personal phone calls
  • trying to learn other’s jobs before you learn your own

Tips when Starting your New Job

The following are suggestions to help you get off to a good start in your new job.

  • Understand the terms of your job description and the duties expected of you.
    • Review the employee handbook (if applicable) and discuss questions with your supervisor.
    • Observe how things are done and ask questions when in doubt.
    • Find out how and where your job fits into the work flow and organization.
  • Practise good work ethics and create a serious approach to the job.
    • Avoid unnecessary absences.
    • Plan and schedule your work day and tasks.
    • Respect the work, ideas, and ambitions of others.
    • Avoid gossiping at the workplace.
    • Be friendly and eager, but not overbearing.
    • Be willing to learn and listen to the constructive advice from others.
    • Be punctual.
  • Be prepared to work overtime if necessary, but work at a reasonable speed so that you can get as much work done as possible in a normal working day.

Transportation to and from Work

No matter how much thought and effort you put into achieving your vocational goal, you need to find a reliable way to get to work every day if you want to keep your job. Think about the methods of transportation available to you.

If your seizures prevent you from driving, you must find other methods of transportation. Public transit may be the best method for larger metropolitan areas. For suburban or rural setting, you may need to rely on taxi services, a family member, or car pool. Whatever method you choose must be available every time you are expected to be at work.

Your Attitude

Your self-perception affects your actions in the workplace. Fears of discrimination often lead to low self-esteem and little self confidence. This may be why some people choose to remain in a position below their capabilities or qualifications

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *