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Employers' guide to diabetes

Diabetes is a condition where a person is not able to naturally control the level of glucose in their blood as their body cannot effectively make or absorb insulin. 

What is diabetes?

There are two types of diabetes – Type 1 and Type 2.

  • Type 1 diabetes develops when the body is unable to produce any insulin and symptoms often develop over a short period of time.
  • Type 2 diabetes develops when the body cannot make enough insulin or when the insulin produced doesn’t work properly. The onset of Type 2 diabetes is slower and the symptoms more subtle.

Impact of diabetes

Symptoms of diabetes may include:

  • excessive thirst with the need to urinate regularly
  • needing to eat at regular times to maintain blood sugar levels
  • “hypos” which can cause hunger, sweating, dizziness, difficulty with concentration, trembling and mood changes.

Recruiting people with diabetes

If the recruitment process involves a longer interview or assessment centres, allow regular time for meals and medication.

  • Be prepared to offer materials in alternative formats.
  • Although few adjustments are required for diabetics, night working may be problematic, but can easily be overcome with support and adjustments.
  • Once a job offer is made, carry out a risk assessment before they start in their role.

Supporting staff who have diabetes

You can support your staff by:

  • Allowing regular meals or medication to be built into working patterns.
  • Having a first aider who is trained in supporting people with diabetes.
  • Providing access to a clean room to check blood sugar levels and sharps disposal.
  • Understanding how stable their condition is and how well they manage it.
  • Providing aids and adaptations if required, such as text enhancing software for visual impairments.
  • Contacting Access to Work (external site) for support with travel to work if they have lost their driving licence due to diabetes.

Useful information about diabetes

You might need to make some adjustments to help your employees. These could include specialist equipment like chairs and IT equipment. Grants are available through Access to Work (external site) to help to cover the cost of items that are identified as necessary to support employees who are disabled or have a health condition.

Take a look at our case studies to see how we have transformed the lives of disabled people