Comprehensive support and jobs for persons with epilepsy
- Leben mit Epilepsie in der Arbeitswelt (LEA)
- Institute for Epilepsy, LEA - Living with Epilepsy in the World of Work
- Country of Implementation
- Western Europe
- Start Year
- First published
“We have one person with epilepsy in one of our supermarkets. She is outstanding – not because of her epilepsy, but due to her friendliness, positive attitude, and hard work!” Klaus Pollhammer, Managing Director, MERKUR Warenhandels AG
A non-profit organization operating in the country state of Styria, Austria, Leben mit Epilepsie in der Arbeitswelt (LEA) provides a variety of services (training, advocacy campaigns, workplace adaption, communication, and awareness raising) to people with epilepsy concerning their integration in the job market.
In Austria, there is no individual assessment of people with epilepsy concerning their ability to work and to be integrated into the labour market. Lack of knowledge and the resulting prejudice against people with epilepsy are further obstacles.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
Between 2011 and 2015, the organization supported 818 clients from the target group, helping them to solve their various problems in finding and maintaining work. In addition, 178 people with epilepsy were given further practical help and support. Of these, 63 persons found a proper job in the open labour market, and 28 kept their present job after identifying and removing various obstacles through cooperation with LEA and the employers. LEA has also helped to overcome the problem of possible indemnity claims as a result of seizures at the workplace by issuing “comfort letters” to employers concerning an employee’s capability to work. Further, the organization has developed a guideline called “Epilepsy in the Workplace,” in cooperation with various Austrian public institutions.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
Financed by the Austrian Ministry of Social Affairs, LEA has an annual cost of EUR 106,000, and it is estimated that nationwide coverage would cost approximately €1 million per year. LEA provides evidence that savings in unemployment benefits would offset this cost several times, and going forward the organization intends to expand its work through the state of Styria.