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Diabetes and employment (our position)

We believe it is unacceptable that significant numbers of people living with diabetes or caring for someone with diabetes experience discrimination or difficulties in the workplace because of their diabetes.

We’ve written a position statement about diabetes and employment which brings together the evidence on these issues. We give you the key points here, and you can also download the full statement as a PDF

The evidence shows that people living with diabetes and the parents of children with diabetes face challenges:

  • 37% of those in employment said that diabetes had caused them or their family member difficulty at work;
  • 16% said they felt they had been discriminated against by their employer because of their diabetes;
  • People with diabetes may have to work part-time or stop working prematurely because they feel they have to choose between their health and their job.

The common issues people describe are:

  • A lack of employer understanding about diabetes and its complications;
  • Limited flexibility to take breaks to eat, to take medications or to attend medical appointments and diabetes education course, and a corresponding lack of coordination for diabetes appointments;
  • Unhealthy work environments which don’t support diabetes self-management.

We believe there should be a level playing field in the workplace for people with diabetes and other long-term health conditions, with reasonable adjustments made to allow them to remain healthy at work. We oppose any blanket bans on roles for people with diabetes who use insulin, except in the armed forces. We have made recommendations for employers, health and welfare services, schools and national decision makers.

To produce this statement, we carried out a literature review of the available evidence from the UK and internationally and brought this together with findings from our engagement work with people living with diabetes. This includes findings from the Future of Diabetes report, to which more than 9,000 people contributed, and from qualitative work with people with diabetes that we commissioned on this topic. The statement has been signed off by our Council of People Living with Diabetes.

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