Information and guidance for employers on supporting employees who have migraines including legal obligations.
Due to Coronavirus (COVID-19), there may be further support required for your employee who has a health condition due to migraines.
They may be in the category identified by the Scottish Government at very high risk of severe illness from COVID-19. To protect themselves, they have been issued with a letter informing them of
shielding (external site) and what this means for them.
Within this shielding letter, there is lots of information on support for them. They can also use this to provide evidence to you as their employer that they cannot work outside their own home.
If they have not received a letter requesting them to follow shielding protocol, you may find that they still fall into a category of higher risk. This can be identified by the fact they get offered the flu vaccine by their GP. They do not need to accept this offer, but they need to have been classified by their GP as needing it because of their health condition.
Migraine is a common health condition with 1 in 5 women and around 1 in 15 men affected, usually beginning in early adulthood.
Migraine is more than just a headache, it is a condition with a wide variety of symptoms with the main feature being a painful throbbing headache. Other symptoms may include
The symptoms vary from person to person, some experiencing migraine several times a week and other only occasionally and sometimes there can be years between attacks, therefore when implementing support in the workplace an understanding of the condition and the possibly symptoms is useful.
There are different types of migraine, but the three main types are
Migraine with aura is the rarer form and can also present with additional symptoms such as loss of balance; double vision and fainting.
The exact cause of migraines is unknown, it may be due to inflammation in the brain, or it may have a genetic link as half of all people who experience migraines also have a close relative with the condition.
For those susceptible to migraine there are certain triggers which are common, these include
There's no cure for migraines, but a number of treatments are available to help reduce the symptoms. These may include
If your employee could have a specific trigger which is causing the migraines, such as stress or a certain type of food, avoiding this trigger may help reduce the risk of experiencing migraines.
It may also help to maintain a generally healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, sleep and meals, as well as ensuring you stay well hydrated and limiting your intake of caffeine and alcohol.
The GP may refer them to a migraine clinic and ask them to keep a diary of their symptoms and what you were doing prior to the migraine onset to try and pinpoint specific triggers which then allows them to manage them. They may also use some anti-seizure medication which may also help reduce, or event prevent the symptoms or occurrence of migraine.
You may find employees with a diagnosis of migraine may have increased levels of sickness absence or they may need to attend the hospital, their GP or their specialist more frequently than those without the health condition.
Authorised absence, out with the normal organisation sickness absence triggers, should be considered an appropriate adjustment under the Equality Act 2010, this would be identified within your Supporting Staff Attendance Policy.
If you feel your policy doesn’t include this, you can get support from our
Supporting staff attendance pages.
Other areas that you can consider when supporting an employee with migraine may include
Key sources of support for both the employer and employee include
Healthy Working Lives can help you to develop supportive and inclusive workplace policies and offer support both online and on the telephone. You can contact the free and confidential advice line on 0800 019 2211 for more advice.
Subscribe to receive updates on our services and activities
For information on workplace health, safety and wellbeing, you can speak to one of our specialist advisors.