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“We have a new employee starting who has told us he has diabetes. What are our legal obligations?”
Diabetes is a disability under the Equality Act 2010. Under this Act it is illegal for an employer to directly or indirectly discriminate by treating an employee less favourably as a result of a disability. It is very important for an employer to consider their obligations as compensation in an employment tribunal is unlimited.
You should ensure you have rules in place to prevent disability discrimination in:
· recruitment and selection
· determining pay, terms and conditions
· sickness absence
· training and development
You are under a duty to make reasonable adjustments for your diabetic employee. You should consider what steps could reasonably be taken to assist him to carry out his role safely or, if necessary, consider what other roles might be more suitable. This should be regularly reviewed in consultation with the individual and with medical evidence if necessary.
You must allow breaks for insulin injections or glucose intake as well as allowing time off work to attend diabetic medical appointments, which should not affect his sickness record.
Helping him to manage his condition will also assist in meeting your health and safety obligations both to him and any colleagues or customers who might be affected should a diabetic seizure occur, for example.
In general it is important to create a workplace culture where employees feel they can disclose any disabilities and actively demonstrate that discrimination is not tolerated. You should have a good equal opportunities policy and provide training to employees and managers.