Diabetes and Jobs FAQs

It's a good idea to tell your employer that you have diabetes
It's a good idea to tell your employer that you have diabetes

Some people worry about what bearing their diabetes will have on their employment. Should I tell my employer? Do I get extra time for diabetic appointments? Will I be able to drive on insulin?

The Diabetes and Jobs FAQ looks at each of these questions and more.

Is diabetes a disability?

Although you may not feel disabled, diabetes is classed as an ‘unseen disability’ under the Equality Act. This has its advantages as it can help to protect against discrimination at work.

I’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, should I tell my employer?

It is advisable to be open and tell your employer that you have diabetes. That way, should something happen, your employer will be able to take this into account.

For example, if you need time off, need time to inject insulin or diabetes causes you to be late, you’ll be in a much better position to explain if your diabetes has been previously declared. 

If you use insulin, or are otherwise prone to hypoglycaemia, it is important that your employer is aware and they know how to respond.

What reasonable adjustments should be made for diabetes?

The law is not clear cut as to how ‘reasonable’ is defined but it could include being offered:

  • Flexibility over working hours with regard to having time to eat food and test
  • Modified equipment, eg for visually impaired people
  • Providing a private place to inject
  • Improved accessibility features

In some cases, changing duties or a transfer to an alternative position may be possible.

Does my diabetes allow me to take time off work?

Diabetes should allow you to take time off work where necessary.

The law does not dictate that the time off should necessarily be paid, however, some firms may be happy to do so. Time off work is covered by the Disability Discrimination Act, stating that an employer should make reasonable adjustments to stop you being disadvantaged in comparison with non-diabetic workers.

Does an employer have the right to know my medical history?

In most cases it is your choice whether you tell them or not. However, the Health and Safety at Work Act could mean that employers need to carry out individual risk assessments to assess whether a disability poses a risk to the health of either yourself or others.

I’ve been diagnosed with diabetes; will I be able to keep my job?

For those who are diagnosed with diabetes whilst currently working for a company, the company will be expected to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate the condition, if they are necessary. What qualifies as a reasonable adjustment is open to discussion.

Examples of reasonable adjustments could include: adjusting working times, changing the duties you are required to undertake, allowing time off for doctors appointments, or even transferring you to a more appropriate position (if available).

I’m a driver and diabetic, can I still work?

If you are controlled by tablets there is no legal ban to prevent you from being employed to drive. However, it is down to your employer as to whether they allow you to continue. If you are dependent on insulin, the rules for licenses are more strict and may affect your entitlement to drive.

My work have stopped me from attending an overseas meeting, are they allowed to do this?

If diabetes affects their insurance costs, then they may be justified in stopping you from attending the meeting.

If you have diabetes, you should be open about it as travelling under inadequate cover could mean that you and the company are not covered should anything go wrong.

My work involves a lot of strenuous activity, how will I cope?

Where possible, your employer should allow you to take time out to test and treat your sugar levels.

If they cannot accommodate this, they will need to be able to justify the reasons.

If in this line of work, remember to have plenty of sugar available during the working day.

My diabetes has left me unable to work, am I entitled to any benefits?

I you are under 65, disabled and need personal care or supervision, you could be entitled to Disability Living Allowance (DLA).