Diabetes and Discrimination

Employers should ensure you are not at a disadvantage because of your diabetes
Employers should ensure you are not at a disadvantage because of your diabetes

The Equality Act of 2010 states that your employer should be expected to make reasonable adjustments to prevent discrimination taking place.

An employer should not place you in a situation where you are disadvantaged as a result of your diabetes, if it can be reasonably avoided.

An example may be if you need to have breaks to test blood glucose levels. Where this can be accommodated, the employer should make adjustments to allow you to do this.

I feel I am being discriminated against because of my diabetes, what should I do?

Should you feel that you have a case, there are a numbers of ways to deal with the issue.

Where possible you should try to speak informally with your manager, supervisor or member of human resources. Address the issue and work out what can be done to resolve the problem.

If this approach fails to make the situation better, you may wish to raise a grievance.

An employer may have a grievance procedure in place but if they don’t the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) have a standard procedure and they may be also be able to offer advice.

I’m facing harassment because of my diabetes

People with diabetes should not face any form of abuse related to their diabetes which includes any hurtful jokes, mocking or other forms of intimidation.

If harassment is taking place, let a manager, supervisor or human resources representative know. The company should take measures to prevent discrimination or harassment taking place.

Will I lose my job if my diabetes causes me to have too much time off work?

If your employer has a set number of sick days and your diabetes, or another disability, causes you to exceed the maximum number, your employer should take reasonable steps to accommodate for this. If your time off work can be reasonably accommodated by your employer, you should not lose your job.

If absences are affecting the business in a way that cannot be accommodated, dismissal may be deemed fair.

If your diabetes has lead you to be off work for a long time and you are unlikely to return to work soon, an employer could be acting within their rights if they choose to terminate your position. What is seen as a long time can depend on the type of work you do.

Can my employer reduce my pay because of leave for my diabetes?

If your diabetes has caused you to have more time off work than the maximum allowance, it is reasonable for the company not to pay you for days beyond the maximum sick days allowance. Note that some firms may operate a separate disability leave policy.

My diabetes has stopped me getting my bonus

In some cases, diabetes may be a factor which affects eligibility for a bonus. A common example is when a bonus is linked to meeting a maximum number of sick days. If your diabetes has directly caused you to take more days of absence than you otherwise would if you did not have diabetes, then your employer should take steps to factor out days taken specifically as a result of diabetes.

Can an employer sack me for having diabetes?

If your diabetes renders you incapable of performing your job, despite reasonable adjustments and the possibility of moving to a different role being considered, you could be dismissed on fair grounds.

If you have dismissed without the consideration of reasonable adjustments, this could be unfair dismissal.

Can I be stopped from performing a particular job?

There are some jobs which you may not be able to perform, on the basis of safety, if you are on medication, such as insulin, that can increase the risk of hypoglycemia. Some jobs that are allowed to have exclusions for people on insulin include firefighters, prison guards and a number of positions in the armed forces