Whether you’re taking your first step onto the job ladder or looking to change jobs, it’s important to show recruiters that you’re the best person for the job, regardless of your diabetes.
Applying for jobs
It is unlawful for an employer to operate a blanket ban on recruitment of people with diabetes. Some jobs involving safety-critical work will have legitimate health requirements that may exclude some people with certain medical conditions, including diabetes. Following extensive campaigning by Diabetes UK, the blanket bans have been lifted in the emergency services for people with Type 1 diabetes and people with Type 2 diabetes who use insulin. Decisions made on someone’s suitability for employment in these services should be made by a process of individual assessment.
- Recruitment and retention of people with diabetes in the police, fire and ambulance services should now be subject to individual medical assessment. However the UK armed forces are exempt from the Equality Act and can operate a blanket ban on the recruitment of people with diabetes.
- In some NHS Ambulance Trusts, there are still restrictions in place on people with diabetes who wish to be ambulance crew. These restrictions are being challenged. You may find that if you develop diabetes while in employment, your employer may offer to change aspects of your job, for instance by altering your shift patterns. If you are no longer able to meet the health requirements of your job, your employer may offer you a different job in the same organization. This could be sensible and may be worth considering.
Shift work: People with diabetes used to be discouraged from doing shift work, but improvements in blood glucose testing and more flexible insulin regimes mean that diabetes is less likely to get in the way.
When to tell recruiters
It can be difficult to decide when to tell recruiters about your diabetes. The Equality Act now makes it unlawful for an employer to ask about the health of an applicant before offering them work. This is subject to specific identified exceptions, including where: the employer wishes to establish whether the applicant will need adjustments to be made, in connection with arrangements for the assessment process, the employer is asking for monitoring purposes, (but they must not use this information to discriminate against someone with a disability), the employer wants to improve disabled people’s chance of getting employment; the question asked is relevant to find out if the applicant can carry out tasks that are absolutely necessary to the job.
In some professions there are specific rules regarding certification and physical qualification and you will have to disclose your diabetes to be properly assessed. But for the most part, there is no legal requirement to disclose diabetes and the decision whether to tell an employer or prospective employer is up to the individual. However, if an employer does not know, and could not reasonable have been expected to know that you have diabetes, you may not be able to rely on the Equality Act if you feel you have been discriminated against.
Note: If you are not asked about diabetes at your interview, it is probably best to wait until you have been told in writing that you are being offered the position. By this stage the recruiters will have already decided whether you are suitable for the job and the fact that you have diabetes shouldn’t influence their final decision.