Migraine in the Workplace? Tips for Employers

Migraine in the Workplace? Tips for Employers


Migraine in the workplace is a huge issue! People living with migraine find many of their colleagues do not understand it is a complex neurological condition, just like diabetes, epilepsy, or asthma.

Migraine is responsible for the loss of over 500,000 workdays per year in Ireland which costs the economy on €252 million on average.

Migraine is hard to understand for people who have no experience of it because those with migraine can look perfectly fine between attacks. Migraine generally features a one-sided throbbing headache. The headache is normally worsened by movement. Headache is just one of the symptoms, albeit the most well-known. Migraine can be ‘triggered’ by a combination of factors such as stress, diet, dehydration, hormonal changes, excess or lack of sleep, weather, routine, glare from TV, phones/computer screens and fluorescent lighting.

People with migraine may act like everything is fine to avoid being seen as lazy, or weak or unable to do their job properly. This is down to migraine being perceived as just a headache that can be cured by taking a pain killer which could not be further than the truth. Migraine has real, debilitating and sometimes devastating effects on a person’s life.

Migraine in the Workplace

The workplace can be a minefield for a migraineur for potential triggers like fluorescent lights, perfumes/cleaning products, long periods in front of a screen, air conditioning, or lack thereof. It can be overwhelming.

For a person with migraine to ask colleagues to help by not doing something or changing something in the workplace is a daunting prospect as they first need to say they have migraine, then try to explain that it is not just a headache and that they are not taking the mick.

Tips for Employers that require little or no cost

Create an open-door policy. Be supportive.

Be tolerant if someone has slowed down, do not assume because someone looks well, they are ok.

Consider having a fragrant free office.

Allow breaks for food, hydration, and medication.

Change workspace locations to accommodate the employee.

Allow flexible working hours.

Purchase glare-free screen guards or noise-cancelling headphones.

Provide a darkened area or rest room.