Wokingham Today

One is six with diabetes feel discrimina­ted against

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RESEARCH from Diabetes UK has found that one in six (16%) people with diabetes currently in work in the South East feel that they’ve been discrimina­ted against by their employer because of their condition.

The survey also found that more than one third (33%) of respondent­s said that living with diabetes had caused them difficulty at work, while 7% had not told their employer that they have the condition. 24% of people in the South East 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.

Jill Steaton, Regional Manager in the South East at Diabetes UK, said: “Thousands of people across the UK have spoken out about how a lack of understand­ing from their employers can make working with diabetes not just exhausting and stressful, but also potentiall­y life-threatenin­g. We heard from people who had to give up their jobs in order to manage their condition safely.

“Diabetes is one of the largest health crises of our time affecting more than 2.2 million people of working age in the UK.

“Discrimina­tion and difficulti­es come about because employers lack knowledge about diabetes and do not understand its impact. We need to talk more about the condition and the many ways it affects people’s lives in order to persuade workplaces to offer greater understand­ing and flexibilit­y. Everyone deserves to work in an environmen­t where they can ask for the support they need.”

Often people with diabetes do not think of themselves as having a disability, but in many cases they will be covered by the definition of disability in the Equality Act 2010. The Equality Act defines a disability as a ‘physical or mental impairment that has a substantia­l long-term negative effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.’ When asking whether the condition fits the definition it is the effect of untreated diabetes and the impact on each individual that should be considered, particular­ly if they have developed complicati­ons.

To find out more about your rights at work if you have diabetes or supporting people with diabetes in the workplace if you are an employer visit www.diabetes.org.uk/work

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