Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan will today [Wednesday 2 March] lead a debate in the Scottish Parliament highlighting the difficulties which people with epilepsy face to find and retain secure employment.
It comes as Epilepsy Scotland launch a campaign to increase awareness of epilepsy in the workplace and to engage employers on how to better support colleagues with epilepsy. Research from the Scottish Centre for Employment Research at Strathclyde University found that just 36.9% of people with epilepsy in Scotland are in employment compared to 81.3% of non-disabled people.
The review also found significant gaps in data and in our understanding of the impact of epilepsy on employment in Scotland. The research found that, despite improving attitudes, employers still have poor awareness of the condition and often have misconceptions around the abilities of people with epilepsy.
Alasdair Allan MSP, who is the Convenor of the Scottish Parliament Cross-Party Group on Epilepsy, commented:
“While attitudes to epilepsy have improved from the prejudice and superstition which surrounded the condition within living memory, people with epilepsy continue to face significant barriers in employment.
“We should recognise that we are not presently drawing to anything like the extent we could be on the talents of people with epilepsy. That is something which means not only that people with epilepsy are missing out economically and socially, but so is our economy as a whole.
“I commend the work of Epilepsy Scotland in drawing attention to this issue, and I hope it can spark a wider conversation on how employers can better support people with epilepsy.”
Epilepsy Scotland Chief Executive Leslie Young commented:
“Having a job can provide a meaningful focus for our lives as well as providing an income. Being part of that working community brings a feeling of self-worth and contributes to our self-image and self-esteem. No one with epilepsy should be denied that because of their condition.”
“Any employer who sees epilepsy and or the reasonable adjustment that may need to be made as a barrier or too big a challenge is at the very least being short-sighted. They may in fact be missing the opportunity to employ the hardest working, most resilient person they have met or had the chance to employ. Securing that person as a member of the team is likely to provide benefits far beyond what is described in their job description, purely as a result of living with a lifelong condition.”
The full Epilepsy and Employment in Scotland research paper can be found here.