Over 3 million people in the UK have diabetes and recent reports suggest that this number is set to increase rapidly to 5 million by 2025*. In Bradford and Airedale alone, currently 1 in 20 people approximately have been diagnosed and many are living with undiagnosed diabetes.
Diabetes is a common lifelong health condition that will often be covered by the definition of disability under the Equality Act. Many people with the condition can lead full lives if the condition is well managed and supported however if complications do occur, it can seriously affect a person’s ability to carry out day to day tasks. The condition can also mean that an employee takes longer to recover from illness.
There are two main types of diabetes.
• Type 1 diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes. It is usually (although not exclusively) seen in young people.
• Type 2 diabetes or non insulin-dependent diabetes. It tends to affect adults over 40 and overweight people, although it is now becoming more common amongst younger people.
Employees with diabetes will need to attend routine appointments to monitor their condition, the checks required are often with different healthcare professionals on different days. Everyone is entitled to time off for medical appointments however it is reasonable for an employer to request that plenty of notice is provided if possible for appointments and where possible they are scheduled together or outside of working hours.
For most people, the illness does not affect their ability to work and under The Equality Act of 2010 it states that an employer should make reasonable adjustments to prevent discrimination taking place and not put an employee in a situation where they are disadvantaged as a result of their diabetes, if it can be reasonably avoided. An individual risk assessment should be carried out to see if reasonable adjustments are necessary and reviewed regularly.
An example of a reasonable adjustment would be allowing an employee to have breaks to test blood glucose levels. Where this can be accommodated hygienically and privately? Consider what is in place in case the employee has a hypoglycaemic episode (hypo)? Although the employee will usually recognise and treat this, it is important for colleagues to recognise the symptoms and know what to do.
FusionHR can offer guidance for staff wellbeing and occupational health services,speak to your HR Consultant or give us a call to discuss your needs on 01924 827869.