Diabetes and Employment - Getting a Job

For a start, in almost all situations you should disclose your diabetes if your employment application requires you to.

In all but a few rare cases, there is no reason why people with diabetes should not have equal access to jobs; the exceptions being when employers, for some positions, may be unwilling to accept employees who are at risk of hypoglycemia.

I am diabetic and looking for a job, what problems could I face?

Conditions such as diabetic retinopathy may inhibit chances of gaining positions that require good visual clarity. Some employers will perceive a job as being a danger to your condition, and this may further complicate an application.

Are some jobs more suitable for people with diabetes?

This depends entirely on each individual looking for a job.

Some professions may be more suitable, depending on your diabetes control and also advice from your healthcare professionals.

For instance, some people with diabetes may wish to do more physical exercise rather than be at a desk all day, but obviously there is a balance to be struck and good blood glucose control might be essential for a role like this. 

Similarly, many people with a good blood sugar routine may prefer fixed working hours in order to maintain their stability. Some people with diabetes seeking a job will also look for the freedom to inject insulin or test their blood glucose whilst at work.

I am dependant on insulin; does this exclude me from some jobs?

As an insulin user, the following jobs (under current legislation) are unavailable to you.

This list does not cover every position, and an employer may use their own discretion, in some cases unfairly. Some of these jobs are exempt from the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995, meaning that employers can refuse an applicant who has diabetes.

This list is by no means exhaustive.

You may feel (justifiably) that some employers unfairly prevent you from taking up a post that you could safely undertake.

Individual cases are best discussed further with your doctor.

Are diabetics banned from doing some jobs?

This depends on your type of diabetes and how you control it.

Thankfully, very few professions remain completely out of bounds for people with diabetes.

No matter what profession you are seeking to undertake, it is worth checking the suitability of the role both with the prospective employer and with your healthcare professional.

I’m diabetic, and the only job I can find is shift work. Should I take it?

Shift work can lead to difficulty with the control of your diabetes, particularly if you are dependent on insulin. If you are to take up a position such as this, it is extremely important that you are self-disciplined. You may also need to avoid work shifts, and take break to administer insulin.

Shift work can change meal times, and sleeping patterns.

It can also be a stressful method of employment, and some employers will object to injection at work.

There is no reason people with diabetes shouldn't have equal access to jobs
There is no reason people with diabetes shouldn't have equal access to jobs

I am diabetic and looking for work, what should I seek?

Although this varies for each individual, the following could be seen as desirable for a diabetes sufferer:

  • Fixed working hours
  • Regular physical exercise rather than desk work
  • Flexibility to inject and self-monitor at work

In legal terms, is diabetes considered to be a disability?

The provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995 include diabetes. An employer can therefore not refuse to employ you on the grounds of your diabetes.

If you feel like you have been discriminated against, it is necessary for you to prove your case.

You should declare your disease on an employment form, in a positive manner. Some advice sheets are available online.

Can an interviewer question me about my diabetes?

If the role in question would not be appropriate for someone with certain conditions, it is fair for the employer to ask questions to allow them to assess your suitability.

For roles in which this is not the case, they may ask questions about disability for monitoring purposes; these questions should not, however, be used to assess the quality of your candidature.

Bear in mind that some employers may actually have incentives to employ people who have disabilities.

I feel as though I was not chosen for the job because of my diabetes, what can I do?

If your diabetes has no bearing on your capability for the job and you believe you have been discriminated as a result of your diabetes, you may be able to raise your case at an employment tribunal.