SICKNESS POLICIES ARE A HEADACHE FOR MIGRAINE SUFFERERS

PUBLISHED: 12:07 11 September 2006 | UPDATED: 10:51 06 May 2010

A MEDICAL research charity has said that new workplace sickness policies and unsympathetic employers are putting extra pressure on migraine sufferers. Research from The Migraine Trust revealed more than half (63 per cent) of people prone to migraine attac

A MEDICAL research charity has said that new workplace sickness policies and unsympathetic employers are putting extra pressure on migraine sufferers.

Research from The Migraine Trust revealed more than half (63 per cent) of people prone to migraine attacks believed their employer's sick leave policies discriminated against them.

The survey found that in many cases employers took into consideration the number of absences rather than the length of time taken off, which worked against migraine sufferers as attacks typically last between four and 72 hours.

Almost half (48 per cent) said the way their company handled sickness had changed in the last two years, with many claiming new sick leave policies discriminated against migraine sufferers.

Almost three quarters of sufferers thought their employers were doing nothing to help them find ways to reduce the impact of migraines on their work.

Fifty-nine per cent of respondents said they felt under more pressure at work now than before.

Migraine affects around six million people in the UK and is the most common neurological condition in the developed world, more prevalent than diabetes, epilepsy and asthma combined.

Over half (54 per cent) of sufferers experience one or more attacks per month, and 13 per cent will have at least one per week.

An estimated 90,000 people are away from work and education every day in the UK because of headaches and migraines, costing the economy an estimated £1bn.

Wendy Thomas, chief executive of The Migraine Trust, said: "There are many simple steps that employers can take to help reduce the impact of migraines in the workplace - changes to lighting, VDU screens, flexible working, to name but a few.

"Instead what we're seeing are changes to sickness policies which are putting additional pressure on migraine sufferers. Policies such as refusing to pay sick leave for the first couple of days of an absence adversely affect migraine sufferers, because the disabling pain of the headache part of a migraine attack typically lasts between four and 72 hours.

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