Dealing with Diabetes at Work
Talking to people at work about your diabetes may make you uncomfortable. Some people with diabetes will not have to divulge their diabetes status to employers for months or years. However, to protect yourself, you may find it in your best interest to let your employer and co-workers know. Then, should you have a diabetes-related emergency at work, you can get help quickly.
Your health is personal, and you may wish you could keep your diabetes a secret. After all, many people have health condition secrets that they do not share with anybody besides their doctor.
Nevertheless, if it gets hard to hide diabetes, and you may need to divulge why you may need to stop to snack spontaneously, check your blood glucose (blood sugar), give yourself a shot, or rest (to recover from a hypoglycemic event).
You may also need to request that your employer make "reasonable accommodations" to help you manage your diabetes and contribute to their success.
"Reasonable accommodations" is the term the government uses to describe what employers must do for employees who have disabilities (think of the Americans with Disabilities Act). In recent months and years, the legal system has granted more rights in the workplace to people with diabetes.
Telling Your Employer about Diabetes
When you think it is time to divulge your diabetes to your employer, seek some coaching from an attorney who specializes in employment law, if you foresee difficulties. This can help protect you.
Consider telling your employer:
- You plan to continue to work at the company on an ongoing basis, and you want to contribute to its ongoing success. (This is sometimes a good reassurance to give your company.)
- You appreciate the company and your employment. (Another good reassurance.)
- You have been living with diabetes, and it is time for you to let them know.
- You are requesting some reasonable accommodations that will help you have success and be a healthy employee.
Your attorney may also help you write a letter that you deliver when you divulge your diabetes. You should make some notes of the conversation, and keep them for future reference.
Sitting down with an employer to divulge that you live with diabetes may be a challenge. You do not know how they are going to react.
While most employers will respect you and the rights afforded you under the law, some may choose to make your work more difficult. You can work effectively with diabetes and contribute to your employer's success.