Diabetes at Work - Your Legal Rights
In the last 20 years, the number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK has more than doubled. By 2025, projections suggest that there will be more than 5 million people living with diabetes.
If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, it’s important to know what your legal rights are at work, particularly if your health is being affected by your condition.
In most occupations, there is no legal obligation for you to tell your employer that you have diabetes. And it’s against the law under the Equality Act 2010 for any employer to ask you about your health before offering you a job.
Even though you don’t have to tell your employer, being open and honest about your diabetes can really help you at work, particularly if your diabetes is resulting in ongoing health issues. You can give your employer the opportunity to give you any support you need.
You do have legal rights relating to your job if you have diabetes. If you’re not sure, get in touch with one of our Employment Law Solicitors for free initial legal advice.
Is Diabetes Covered as a Disability?
Disability is one of the nine Protected Characteristics in the Equality Act 2010. This legislation gives you legal protection against disability discrimination at work. Under the Equality Act it is unlawful if you are discriminated against because of a disability:
- When you’re applying for a job
- During your employment
- When your employment ends
The Equality Act describes a disability as a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial long-term effect on someone’s ability to do normal day to day activities. Although diabetes is not an automatic disability under the Equality Act, if your condition means that you are significantly impacted on a day to day basis, your diabetes diagnosis could be classed as a disability under the Act, especially if it is Type 1 diabetes.
If you are in this situation at work, you can ask for reasonable adjustments to be made in your workplace. This is how your employer can help you and also comply with the Equality Act relating to people with disabilities.
Living and Working with Diabetes
Depending on whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, the management of your condition will be very different.
If you are managing Type 1 diabetes, you may need somewhere private to monitor your blood glucose levels or inject insulin to control your condition or be given time to eat at certain points in the work day.
With Type 2 diabetes, you may be controlling your condition with your diet or medication or even be in remission.
Whether you are managing Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, telling your employer means they can help you. They should allow you to manage your condition in a way that you’re comfortable with.
You are required to have annual check-ups relating to your diabetes because of the impact it can have on your whole body. You may need to book time off work to make these appointments, as there are many different services in the NHS involved in diabetic care.
By informing your employer about your diabetes condition and outlining the importance of these checks, they can understand your position better. If your employer is stopping you from taking time off work to attend diabetic checks, this could be discrimination and you could make a claim against them.
In this situation, it’s best to get legal advice from a specialist Employment Law Solicitor.
What are My Rights at Work?
If your diabetic condition affects you on a daily basis whilst you are at work, your employer is required to make reasonable adjustments to help you. Your employer can help you by:
- Offering you a flexible working pattern
- Allowing you to have more breaks to test your blood, eat or take your medication
- Allow you to attend your medical appointments and any diabetes education courses.
If your employer is not making reasonable adjustments for your diabetes, you could have a claim for disability discrimination at work.
It’s important to know that you can make a disability discrimination claim whilst you are still in your job and you don’t have to leave. If your employer starts treating you differently as a result of your claim, you may have a claim for victimisation too.
You don’t have to accept poor treatment by your employer.
Be aware that time limits are short when making a disability discrimination claim. You only have three months from the date of the discrimination, or the latest incident in a chain of events, so get legal advice from a specialist Employment Lawyer as soon as you can.
How Simpson Millar Can Help You
If you’ve suffered disability Discrimination in the workplace because of diabetes, we can help you to understand your legal position and if you have a claim against your employer.
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