Having diabetes doesn't mean you won't be able to find a job. It is important to demonstrate to recruiters that you're the best person for the job, regardless of your diabetes.
The Equality Act 2010 sets out the principles that employers should follow in their treatment of employees and job applicants to ensure equality in the workplace, so legally you cannot be discriminated against because you have diabetes.
A very small number of job options are not open to people who manage their diabetes with insulin injections. This is because some occupations have restrictions that are usually related to safety concerns.
Previously, people with type 1 diabetes and people with type 2 diabetes who use insulin were not allowed to work in the emergency services. Following extensive campaigning by Diabetes UK, this total ban has been lifted. People applying for a job in the emergency services will now be considered on an individual basis.
The UK armed forces are exempt from the Equality Act and do operate a ban on the recruitment of people with diabetes. If you develop diabetes while you are a serving member of the armed forces, however, you will not automatically be discharged. Your case will be reviewed by experts.
When to tell recruiters
Some application forms have questions about your health. If you have diabetes it is important to mention it on the form and to answer any questions fully and honestly.
If you are not asked about your health on the application form, you may want to mention your diabetes at the end of the interview. By this stage the recruiters should have already decided whether you are suitable for the job.
If you are asked how diabetes will affect your ability to do the job, be honest but positive. Show you are in control of your health by telling your interviewer how you manage your diabetes and by answering any questions they may have about how it impacts your daily life.
Diabetes at work
You should be prepared to deal with a hypoglycaemic episode (a ‘hypo’) at work by checking your blood glucose levels regularly and always making sure you have a supply of quick-release and slow-release carbohydrates on you. Give your colleagues enough information about it to enable them to help you without overreacting.
If you have to take time off because of your diabetes, it is important to do the following:
- Try to arrange appointments for the same morning.
- If you have several medical appointments, if at all possible try to arrange them for the same day to minimise the amount of time you need off work.
- Give your employer plenty of notice that you will be absent.
- Keep your employer informed of how long you think you will be off work.
- Don't blame diabetes if you are off for any other reason.
- Seek prompt medical attention.
Learn more about your legal rights with this Diabetes UK leaflet.
The Citizens Advice website here will give you information on your local branch details.
The UK Government website has information about disability rights and employment here.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has information about your rights and all aspects of disability discrimination here, as does the Equality Advisory Support Service here.
You will find information on the Equality Act 2010 here.