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One in seven people suffer migraine, with attacks ranging from once or twice a year to several times a week. A recent CBI survey found that migraine/chronic headache was the second most frequently identified cause of long term absence at 47% of non-manual employees. However, the condition is often trivialised and instances of discrimination against migraine sufferers at work are still relatively frequent.

Some migraines are classed as a disability under the Equality Act 2010, namely where:
 
The sufferer can establish that the condition has a 'substantial and long-term' adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day to day activities. Such activities, although not precisely defined, would include work-related activities.
In such cases, the protection of the Equality Act applies and means that employers must not discriminate against a migraine sufferer due to their condition. Furthermore, the employer is obliged to make reasonable adjustments to help you continue in your employment.  Common adjustments for migraine sufferers include:
  • Disregarding some absence related to the disability so you are not disadvantaged by the employer's absence policy
  • Allowing flexible working hours
  • Allowing you to work from home to make up for time missed
  • Allowing you to take frequent breaks to avoid trigger factors such as working at a computer or managing machinery
  • Allowing time off for medical appointments
  • Redeployment to a different role if migraine is affecting your current position
  • Ensuring a work environment that is not conducive to migraine e.g. controlling glare from lighting, ensuring correct chair for posture, and good ventilation
  • Providing an antiglare screen for your PC.
Your employer can get advice and support about making adjustments to the workplace from the government's Access to Work scheme. They should also consult thoroughly with you to fully understand what your condition involves and what they can do to help.

More information on migraine is available from Migraine Action, the national advisory and support charity for people affected by migraine.

Making a claim

If your employer does not consult with you, carry out the necessary checks and investigations and make any reasonable adjustments required, your work may suffer. In some circumstances you may find that you are dismissed on the basis that you are unable to carry out the role. If this is the case then you may be entitled to claim against your employer for disability discrimination.

There is no minimum length of employment required to bring a claim at the Employment Tribunal, but it is important to lodge your claim within 3 months of the act of discrimination occurring. It is therefore essential that you take legal advice on your situation at an early stage and as soon as possible.

If you think you have been subject to discrimination on the basis of migraine, please phone Ashley Hunt, Vaishali Thakerar or Carrie-Ann Randall on 0116 212 1000 or complete the form on the right. Lawson-West offer free initial consultations so it won't cost you a penny to find out if you have a claim. We also run a number of free drop-in advice clinics at our offices in Leicester, Wigston & Market Harborough.

Lawson-West will make sure that your disability discrimination claim is funded on the most appropriate basis and that will often be on a No Win No Fee basis. This means that Lawson-West have a vested interest in ensuring your employment claim is successful.