Is HR doing enough to support employees who suffer from migraines?

Is HR doing enough to support employees who suffer from migraines?

Three charities have lambasted UK employers for failing to understand the crippling effects of migraines on a significant part of the UK workforce – BBC reports.

With one in seven people affected by migraines, research suggests more needs to be done to offer support to employees who battle this debilitating condition. One worker told the BBC that migraine pain “is like someone hitting my brain with an ice pick”.

In a Migraine Trust, Migraine Action and National Migraine Centre survey of more than 2,000 UK adults, 64% said they thought employers were not properly informed about the nature of migraines. One in five of those surveyed believe that not even healthcare professionals are fully aware of the impact of migraines on their patients.

Currently, nine million people in the UK are thought to suffer from migraines. Women are more likely to be affected than men. However, many employers are not aware of the condition’s effects. The same worker, who spoke to the BBC about migraine pain, explained that not all employers are sympathetic to the needs of migraine sufferers.

She said: "[Some time] ago, I had 16 headache days in one month, and it had a real impact on my work, although I tried hard not to take sick days." The worker explained that the manager told her to be more resilient, in the face of what can be an incapacitating illness.

She explained: "I found it very hard, it pushed the onus on to me, but it was not something in my control. It feels like you're fighting an illness all by yourself. I came home and cried on the sofa because I couldn't magically make myself better."

However, although migraines can be classed as disability, legislation is currently unclear and many employers reluctant to act. Charity Migraine Action believe that many employees ‘kill’ themselves to get into work, despite the condition. As such, they recommend that employers offer a sick room and consider different lighting and computer screens for those affected.

One sufferer added: “No two migraines are the same. People feel they can't say they are suffering because it's often used as an excuse for a sickie."

Click next to see what some of the most common symptoms of the condition.

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