People with diabetes successfully undertake all types of jobs. A general misunderstanding of diabetes is still common in our community and among some employers. Concerns of uninformed employers includes thinking that people with diabetes will ‘black out’ all the time, or have frequent sick days.
The reality is that, because many individuals with diabetes work with few or no restrictions, their employers don’t even know that they have diabetes.
Getting a job
What do I have to tell an employer?
During the job interview or on the application form, you may be asked to identify health problems. You should always state that you have diabetes. Be prepared to discuss how diabetes may affect your work. For example:
- Explain how you would adjust your insulin/tablets/eating routine to accommodate the work involved.
- Mention your need for occasional short breaks to have a between-meal snack or to test your blood glucose levels.
- Stress the positive aspects of diabetes such as the fact you follow a healthy lifestyle, having yearly medical checks, following routines, and above all, having a responsible attitude towards your health, which rubs off on to other life attitudes including your work.
Can an employer not employ me due to my diabetes?
It is illegal for a prospective employer to not employ you because you have diabetes unless there is good evidence that diabetes would prevent you from adequately performing the genuine and reasonable requirements of the position.
What can I do if I believe I am being discriminated against?
If you believe you have unfairly been discriminated against due to your diabetes, by either not being successful at getting a job or being sacked from an existing job, contact the Advocacy Officer at your state or territory Diabetes Australia office.
What should I tell workmates?
It is probably wise to give workmates a simple explanation about diabetes so that they learn more about diabetes and understand what is happening to you if you suddenly need to eat or inject insulin. It would be wise to make sure one or two key people know what to do in the event of you having hypoglycaemia. This however is your personal choice.
For more information on diabetes and sick days contact the Australian Diabetes Education Association on (02) 6287 4822 to obtain copies of the following:
- Sick Day Management Guidelines for People with Diabetes
- Feeling Sick? What to do? Information for People with Type 1 Diabetes