Go to page content

Occupational health care's role in diabetes

Occupational health care evaluates, monitors, and supports employees' work ability and health status in the workplace.

Diabetes may affect a person’s ability to work, either momentarily or over several years. In order to ensure that the work is suitable for the person’s characteristics as well as the nature and management of their condition, it may be necessary to adjust the work and working conditions.

With regard to most people with type 1 diabetes, the duty of care does not belong to occupational health but either the health centre or special health care. When it comes to persons with type 2 diabetes, often the party responsible for their care is the health centre or occupational health clinic. In that case, it is important to agree on the common practices and service sourcing.

First and foremost, occupational health’s role is to monitor and support the employee’s ability to work. Occupational health must monitor and support employees’ health and ability to work. In most cases, health checks are voluntary but useful from the point of view of monitoring the employee’s ability to work. The health check is performed by the occupational health nurse who will refer the employee to the occupational health physician, if necessary.

The person with diabetes should tell occupational health about their condition themselves. Subject to the employee’s permission, information about the treatment is also available from other treatment centres via the Kanta service.

Health change during the employee’s career

Occupational health should be notified of changes in the employee’s health, such as diabetes, so as to be able to initiate any necessary measures to adjust the employee’s tasks, work environment or working conditions. This occurs at an occupational health consultation between the employee, employer and occupational health.

In the case of absences due to illness lasting longer than 30 days, it is common to perform a health check in preparation for the employee’s return to work and arrange an occupational health consultation. The precondition for returning to work may be adjusted working hours or duties, partial sick leave or a work trial, all of which require a certificate from occupational health.

If the absence due to illness lasts longer than 90 days, the occupational health physician must submit a report to Kela outlining the chances of the employee’s return to work.

Assessment of work ability

Should a supervisor have doubts regarding an employee’s ability to work, they should first discuss the matter with the employee in question. If the issue seems to be health-related, the supervisor may refer the employee to occupational health for an assessment of the employee’s work ability.

Occupational health will then assess the employee’s ability to work and, if necessary and subject to the employee’s consent, arrange an occupational health consultation to support coping with work and/or make an adjustment to the working conditions.

Updated 8.11.2023