One in five diabetics disciplined for taking time off

More needs to be done to educate employers about their responsibilities to diabetic workers, it has been claimed, as it emerged that one in five people with diabetes have faced disciplinary action for missing work.

According to glucose monitoring system manufacturer Dexcom, diabetic employees often feel discriminated against at work with almost a third believing the condition has damaged their career.

Diabetic workers

A survey of more than 800 type 1 and insulin-dependent type 2 diabetes patients found that a quarter had been questioned about the sick days they had taken from work, while 12% claimed they had been refused time off.

One in four said they had to take more than three days off work in the last year to manage their condition. Hospital appointments caused 61% to miss work, 47% had taken time off because of exhaustion and 28% avoided work because of diabetic hypoglycaemia.

Half claimed they worried about taking time off to manage the condition, which affects around 3.7 million people in the UK.

One survey respondent claimed her employer asked for proof of her GP appointments as they believed her diabetes was “just a cover up” for taking time off for other reasons.

But despite the prevalence of diabetes, around half of the survey respondents believed employment laws designed to protect diabetic workers from discrimination were not properly enforced.

The Equality Act states employers should make reasonable adjustments to stop diabetics being disadvantaged at work in comparison with non-diabetic colleagues, which could include adjusting work times, changing their duties and allowing them to take time off if needed.

John Lister, general manager of Dexcom EMEA, hoped the survey’s findings would prompt employers to examine the way diabetic staff were treated by their organisation and colleagues.

“Our research shows that people with diabetes still feel discriminated against in their place of work, to the point that they feel unable to miss work for fear of missing out on promotions or even losing their jobs,”he explained.

“Having to cope with the day-to-day struggle of diabetes is difficult enough, without the pressure that sufferers appear to be under as they try to continue to work and progress in their careers.”

Thirty per cent said they were more embarrassed by having to take a sick day because of their diabetes than for a common cold and 16% would rather tell their employer they had a cold than admit it was because of their glucose levels.

One Response to One in five diabetics disciplined for taking time off

  1. Avatar
    Daz Edwards 4 May 2020 at 10:18 am #

    As a type 2 insulin dependent diabetic I have not experienced disciplinary action at work but know of a colleague that was struggling with his diabetes and was verbally warned about taking time off.
    The trouble is, in most cases, diabetics don’t look any different or unwell and as a result people think there is nothing wrong with you. I feel absolutely rough as anything some days but have to soldier on and pretend nothing is wrong when in fact all you want to do is go and lay down .

    I made a point of letting future employers know at the job interview I am diabetic and usually at the beginning of the interview giving them a chance to say fine carry on or no we don’t want to progress your application any further. I haven’t experienced the latter luckily. I think there is a lack of knowledge where most are concerned and understandably so. I feel that once you have advised your employer of your health condition you should then say, perhaps if ok, you could do some research into the condition so you know what to expect down the line. Most were ok with this.

    I’m now self employed and if I have a day where I really don’t feel like working I just don’t accept any work for that day. Before, it was oh gosh here we go, got to ring in and say not feeling great and then you don’t know if you are going to get any attitude from your manager etc. So, it’s all about letting the people you work for know about your condition and advise on the possible side effects so that they can take this into account if you do have an “off” day.

    No doubt there are those that will take advantage of this and take days off when they feel ok but I think in the main most will only want to be off when they are feeling extra rough.

    From what I understand employers are not allowed to or supposed to discriminate now adays. As for asking for proof, is that allowed ?

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