Research from Diabetes UK has found that one in six people with diabetes currently in work, feel that they’ve been discriminated against by their employer because of their condition.
The survey also found that more than one third of respondents said that living with diabetes had caused them difficulty at work, while 7 per cent had not told their employer that they have the condition. A quarter said that they would like time off work for diabetes-related appointments and flexibility to take regular breaks for testing their blood sugar or to take medication.
Diabetes UK hopes that the survey will start a conversation about long-term health conditions in the workplace. Managing diabetes can involve taking medication – including injecting insulin at the right time – and for some people testing blood glucose levels multiple times a day.
To prevent the onset of serious complications there are vital checks that everyone with diabetes should be getting which can require time off work. Employers can only help if they are aware that someone has diabetes and what it means both day-to-day and in the long run.
Helen Dickens, Assistant Director of Campaigns and Mobilisation at Diabetes UK said, “Diabetes is one of the largest health crises of our time affecting more than 2.2 million people of working age in the UK. Missing essential health checks or not taking medication on time can lead to devastating complications, such as amputations, stroke, heart disease, kidney failure and even early death.”
Megan, 27, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 14 years ago. Last year Megan quit her job working as a management consultant due to lack of support and understanding from colleagues about the impact of diabetes on her day-to-day life.
Megan said: “In my previous job as a management consultant I was constantly undermined and told that my diabetes wasn’t that serious. This included being told off for having medical appointments during the day. I even had staff react negatively towards me after I ended up spending a night in hospital and taking a bit of time off work due to very high blood glucose levels. I eventually decided that enough was enough, and I quit my job so I could spend some time taking care of myself.”