14th November 2022 – World Diabetes Day – How a little knowledge can impact someone’s life as well as your business

28th November 2022

Reports indicate that there has been a continued global increase in diabetes diagnoses. It is therefore likely that within most workplaces there will be employees living with the condition.

Most people can manage their diabetes so it doesn’t affect their work. However, in many cases this can take careful planning. From a health and safety perspective, employers should ensure that their employees are generally aware of the impact of diabetes and how to spot the signs that an employee may require medical assistance in the event of a hyper or hypo attack.

Diabetes and the Equality Act

Employees who have diabetes (whether type 1 or type 2) may be classified as disabled under the Equality Act. This will be considered on a case by case basis but it is safest for employers to assume that the individual is likely to be disabled when considering the impact of their condition. There are many examples of cases involving employees with diabetes who have been found to have the protections of the Equality Act.

The legal test that the employment tribunal will apply when determining whether a condition is classed as a disability is:

  • has the employee got a physical and /or mental condition;
  • that is long-term (likely to last/or has lasted more than 12 months); and
  • does the condition have a substantial (merely more than trivial) and adverse effect on the employee’s ability to carry out day-today activities.

When assessing this, the impact of any medication taken by the employee is discounted.

Where an employee has protection under the Equality Act an employer must ensure that it does not discriminate against them (either directly or indirectly). In addition, for disabled employees, employers are under a duty to make reasonable adjustments and not to discriminate because of something arising from the disability. Frequently this will involve adjusting absence management procedures, varying working hours, or providing facilities for testing glucose levels or administering insulin. What is reasonable will be different in each case.

How employers can support employees with diabetes

Employers can take the following steps to support diabetic employees and raise awareness about the condition:

  • making sure they have their breaks at set times, so they can keep on top of their blood sugar levels
  • allowing provisions for flexible working patterns to allow for mealtimes in or around the company’s usual lunch times
  • authorising time off for diabetic related check-ups and illnesses
  • encouraging attendance at diabetes education courses
  • carrying out stress risk assessments
  • making requested reasonable adjustments
  • providing private facilities to test glucose levels or administer insulin
  • providing training or circulating information to employees on how to spot whether an employee is showing symptoms of a likely hypo or hyper state and how to respond

If you would like to discuss any of the above matters or require any assistance with managing the risk of potential discrimination claims, please contact one of our Employment experts on 0161 832 3434.

Kuits FSQS registered
Kuits good employment supporter