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Diabetes is a very common health condition, which affects just under 5 per cent of the current UK workforce. However, as a condition it shouldn't hinder people's ability to get a job or to stay in one. An employee with diabetes should be assessed on their individual ability to do a job and not be discriminated against as a result of the condition, which is classed as a disability under the Equality Act 2010. There are a few areas of employment that do have restrictions on people with insulin-dependent diabetes, for safety reasons including:

  • driving long goods vehicles or those carrying passengers (a Group 2 licence)
  • the armed forces
  • airline pilots and, in some instances, cabin crew and air traffic control personnel
  • working offshore, e.g. on oil rigs and ships.
Other jobs sometimes have restrictions as well, although the type of job and restriction varies by local council. These include the emergency services, the railway industry and public carriage services.

Outside these restricted areas, if you are employed, then your employer has a duty to make reasonable adjustments and protect you from discrimination on the grounds of disability relating to your diabetes. Reasonable adjustments vary according to the needs of the individual and job but could include such things as:

  • Allowing flexibility over working hours, in particular to allow enough time to eat food and test
  • Providing a private place to inject
  • Improved accessibility features
  • Altering working hours (e.g. flexi time, job share, reduced hours)
  • Modifying your duties
  • Transferring you to another suitable role within the organisation
  • Allowing time off during working hours (e.g. for treatment, assessment, rehabilitation)
  • Changing practices, policies and procedures (such as allowing more breaks to eat a snack or accommodating a higher level of sickness absence which is related to your condition).

Making a claim

If your employer does not consult with you, carry out the necessary checks and investigations and make any reasonable adjustments required, your work may suffer. In some circumstances you may find that you are dismissed on the basis that you are unable to carry out the role. If this is the case then you may be entitled to claim against your employer for disability discrimination.

There is no minimum length of employment required to bring a claim at the Employment Tribunal, but it is important to lodge your claim within 3 months of the act of discrimination occurring. It is therefore essential that you take legal advice on your situation at an early stage and as soon as possible.

If you think you have been subject to discrimination on the basis of diabetes, please phone Ashley Hunt, Vaishali Thakerar, or Carrie-Ann Randall on 0116 212 1000 or complete the form on the right. Lawson-West offer free initial consultations so it won't cost you a penny to find out if you have a claim. We also run a number of free drop-in advice clinics at our offices in Leicester, Wigston & Market Harborough.

Lawson-West will make sure that your disability discrimination claim is funded on the most appropriate basis and that will often be on a No Win No Fee basis. This means that Lawson-West have a vested interest in ensuring your employment claim is successful.