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News: Employers flout discrimination law for migraine sufferers

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26th Nov 2012
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Employers may be flouting disability discrimination legislation by failing to make reasonable workplace adjustments for employees who suffer from migraines, a charity has warned.

According to a survey conducted by the Migraine Trust, a worrying three out of sufferers who work said that their employer had not made any changes to try and ease their situation.   Just under half felt unfairly treated because of the sickness absence leave that they had to take, while 40.5% felt unsupported by their bosses and colleagues.   Three out of 10 even said that they had undergone disciplinary action as result of their condition, while 21.7% had lost their jobs because of it. One respondent indicated that shehad to leave her last three posts because of time off due to illness, for instance, while another was bullied by her manager.   As a result, just over a third of survey respondents said that they believed that they experienced difficulties and/or intolerance because they were migraine sufferers.   But Hannah Verghese, the Migraine Trust’s advocacy and policy manager, warned that too many employers were failing to either recognise the severity of the condition or to make appropriate adjustments.  Protected by law  “Sufferers are too often put at a disadvantage in the workplace. They are penalised by harsh sickness absence policies and unaware of their rights,” she said.   To make matters worse, a lot of people tried to cover up their condition and did not ask for support for fear of being stigmatised. “Employers need to be aware of the disabling impact of the condition and provide support and fair treatment for migraine sufferers at work,” Verghese added.   Official figures show that migraine sufferers lose up to 25 million days from work or school each year.   David Cubbitt, partner and head of the employment team at law firm Osborne Clarke as well as a trustee for the charity, said that one in seven people suffered from migraines, with attacks ranging from ‘nuisance’ headaches to a debilitating condition that was “protected by law as a disability”.   “Good employers understand the difference and help affected staff,” he said.   To assist, the Migraine Trust has produced a free Employment Advocacy Toolkit to provide guidance for migraine sufferers, line managers, colleagues, the HR department and occupational health professionals.

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