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One in six people with diabetes discriminated against at work

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A third of people living with diabetes experience lack of support and understanding from colleagues in the workplace.

Our research has found that one in six people with diabetes in work, feel that they’ve been discriminated against by their employer because of their condition. 

The survey also found that more than one third (37%) of respondents said that living with diabetes had caused them difficulty at work, while 7% had not told their employer that they have the condition.

A quarter of people said that they would like time off work for diabetes-related appointments and flexibility to take regular breaks for testing their blood sugar or to take medication

Diabetes in the workplace

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We hope that our survey will help start a conversation about long-term health conditions in the workplace. Managing diabetes can involve taking medication – including injecting insulin at the right time – and for some people testing blood glucose levels multiple times a day. 

Read about Megan's experience at work and why she quit her job.

To prevent the onset of serious complications there are vital checks that everyone with diabetes should be getting which can require time off work. Employers can only help if they are aware that someone has diabetes and what it means both day-to-day and in the long run.

Helen Dickens, Assistant Director of Campaigns and Mobilisation at Diabetes UK, said: 

“Thousands of people across the UK have spoken out about how a lack of understanding from their employers can make working with diabetes not just exhausting and stressful, but also potentially life-threatening. We heard from people who had to give up their jobs in order to manage their condition safely. 

“Diabetes is one of the largest health crises of our time affecting more than 2.2 million people of working age in the UK. Missing essential health checks or not taking medication on time can lead to devastating complications, such as amputations, stroke, heart disease, kidney failure and even early death. 

“Discrimination and difficulties come about because employers lack knowledge about diabetes and do not understand its impact. We need to talk more about the condition and the many ways it affects people’s lives in order to persuade places of work to offer greater understanding and flexibility. Everyone deserves to work in an environment where they can ask for the support they need.”

Your rights at work 

Often people with diabetes don't think of themselves as having a disability, but in many cases they will be covered by the definition of disability in the Equality Act 2010. The Equality Act defines a disability as a ‘physical or mental impairment that has a substantial long-term negative effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.’

When asking whether the condition fits the definition, it is the effect of untreated diabetes and impact on each individual that should be considered, particularly if they have developed complications. 

Find out about your rights at work if you have diabetes or about supporting people with diabetes in the workplace if you are an employer.

 

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