They believe that employers need to understand the risks arising from the condition and recognise the serious consequences which may follow if they fail to manage those risks.
Many people have heard about diabetes, it features in the news regularly, yet employers seem reluctant to take steps to manage the risk. Employers have a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that their employees and those affected by what the employer does are not exposed to risk to their health and safety (Health and Safety at Work Act 1974). If diabetes related symptoms contribute to a work place accident and an employer has taken no steps to assess and reduce the risk, then the employer will commit a criminal offence and face a significant fine.
The Equality Act 2010 provides an additional challenge for employers. Type 1 diabetes will be a disability for the purposes of the Act, but the position is not so clear cut when it comes to type 2 diabetes. If, however type 2 is a progressive condition then the employee is likely to satisfy an employment tribunal that they are disabled for the purposes of the Act. There is a practical challenge for employers. The Act doesn’t place a requirement on the employee to disclose that they are diabetic yet where the employer knew or ought to have known that the employee was diabetic the duty to make reasonable adjustments will apply. In order to meet the obligations imposed by the Equality Act 2010 employers also need to consider how to encourage employees to share information about their condition. That will allow the employer to assess whether adjustments are needed. It will also support an on-going open discussion with the employee enabling the employer to nimbly accommodate the employee’s changing needs.
It is clear that there needs to be greater transparency, understanding and practical solutions around diabetes in the workplace to help and support the 4.6 million people who are living with the condition.