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I discovered I have epilepsy while working at my previous job because I got an attack at the office. I had a 1-year contract there and didn't get an additional or permanent contract there, they didn't mention my medical situation as the reason. In general I've had problems keeping a job for a long time with most jobs lasting only about a year. So it took me quite some effort to find my current job, which I've had for about a year and 6 months.

I told my employer of my medical situation after I got an attack during a meeting and had to explain my absence, although it's unlikely that anyone saw me disappear.

I work as a software developer and recently I've had weird errors where my system wasn't working and I needed help from colleagues to repair my system. The error was a random / in a configuration file, that's going to break almost any configuration file. My employer has called me for a Teams meeting about this issue before, to remind me that I shouldn't be making any experimental changes to my system and I shouldn't have any non-work software installed. Since then I've gone back and checked, I did have some games installed that I played while visiting a colleague, so I uninstalled those. After an attack my headset and mouse are usually on the ground and my chair is toppled. But it seems unlikely that I open some kind of file deep inside the folder structure and make an edit to it. Anyway the situation is looking quite bad as this latest bizarre configuration error looks like it must have been made on purpose.

So it looks like an escalation, as the employer first just called me and now he's asking the Human Resources Manager to organize a meeting to discuss this issue next week.

I'm a very private person and my default situation is to say nothing unless I must. Although I realize this might not be a good idea when dealing with work. And the upcoming meeting is looking like a bad sign. In addition I've had at least one epileptic attack every week in the last weeks and/or memory loss. So I suspect the attacks might be causing problems with my work.

Should I inform the HRM or direct manager every time I have an attack or decide to take a rest in order to avoid one (some times attacks are preceded with dizziness)? I feel like this is a weak excuse, the work is either getting done or it's not. How does it help me to have this explanation?

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  • Country/state tag please Mar 18 '21 at 16:03
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    "Should I inform the HRM or direct manager every time I have an attack or decide to take a rest in order to avoid one (some times attacks are preceded with dizziness)?" - Have you asked them what is the official protocol for these situations?
    – DarkCygnus
    Mar 18 '21 at 16:05
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    Very confused about your second paragraph, and what it has to do with anything. Mar 18 '21 at 16:06
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    As an aside, don't install games on your work machine. Only bad can come of it. Keep that stuff on your personal computer.
    – Seth R
    Mar 18 '21 at 18:02
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    Epilepsy has many side effects but corrupting configuration files repeatedly is not one of them.
    – mxyzplk
    Mar 19 '21 at 2:47
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I would certainly talk with HR about this (and this should be a confidential meeting, they won't disclose anything without your permission).

Ask what their take is on the situation as there are bound to be some local/industry guidelines for HR to follow. You don't have to tell anyone, but you could (for example) let your manager and/or first aid personnel know.

As part of your talk, agree something going forward that you're comfortable with, with the option of changing things down the line.

Bear in mind that the company will have your health in mind and will strive to look after you while you're on the clock.

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Should I keep my employer up-to-date on my medical situation with epilepsy?

To the extent at which it has an impact on your work, yes you should.

So my question is: Should I inform the HRM or direct manager every time I have an attack or decide to take a rest in order to avoid one (some times attacks are preceded with dizziness)?

You do whatever you manager tells you to do. Your manager has an right to know if you are somehow incapacitated and can't work. If you need to take immediate medical leave, there will be a process they want you to follow.

You should bring the latest medical advice from your doctor to the meeting, that you're about to have, so you can discuss how the business can support you.

I don't why you're talking about software configuration, and problems you are having there. I'm getting the impression you're severely underperforming, and you're using a misconfigured machine and epilepsy as an excuse. Please clarify the purpose behind this exposition.

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When you say the word "attack" do you mean you have an epilepsy situation or do you mean because of a physical assault you now have epilepsy? Sorry wasn't clear but I think you meant the former.

As such, I think it is a wise idea to tell your manager. At least not because to disclose it but just in case you do have an episode at the office and the manager can properly handle it. Perhaps leave an emergency POC or at least something they could relay to the paramedics when they come over.

As far as disclosing it, you don't have to unless there is some reason you might be coming into work. I think it is a good idea to get in touch with HR, but this is dependent on country and whatever laws local to you. That way should you ever need to have a leave of absence or just need to take a day off, they can work with you and properly handle your request. And as I mentioned earlier, having an emergency POC or at least some information helpful to the paramedics might be worthwhile to file with HR. I would say they would do their best to accommodate you.

I also get that this might be a very rare event for you given that you said you had an episode at the office only once. With that said, I don't think you should outright disclose it right now, but you should probably disclose it at the time you have an episode.

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  • Attack means epilepsy situation, I wasn't physically assaulted or anything like that and I don't know what causes the medical condition.
    – Anonymous
    Mar 19 '21 at 6:49
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Epilepsy is an absolutely-legitimate medical condition and you should not be ashamed of it.

Now – let me also encourage you to ask your doctor about the amino-acid, Taurine. For reasons that are clinically-established but not yet fully understood, this may have a beneficial effect. For a very close relative of mine, it did. Your doctor can look up the relevant clinical information and professionally advise you concerning your particular case. In our case, the treatment proved to be extremely effective and became her physician-approved "treatment of choice" which she has used ever since.

Never "hide" from your employer any medical condition which affects you. Instead, give them every single thing that they might need to know in order to accommodate your medical needs. "Sometimes, Mother Nature throws you a curve-ball."

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  • Eh, you tell you're employer your medical issues as they relate to getting your job done. I don't see where that quote is supposed to be from here, but you really shouldn't be offering any kind of medical advice.
    – BobKayser
    Mar 19 '21 at 4:40

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