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Type 1 diabetes and work

The majority of people with type 1 diabetes are able to manage just as well in working life as anyone else. It is also important to properly manage diabetes at work.

As a rule, the modern treatment of type 1 diabetes and advanced treatment and monitoring equipment enables persons with diabetes to manage at work as well as anyone else. Thanks to the development of new and safer insulin products and pumps, the risk of low blood sugar for persons with diabetes is less common than before. Continuous blood sugar monitoring or glucose sensing also facilitates managing at work.

It is important to properly treat diabetes in daily life, including work. There are jobs where it takes more effort to treat diabetes and take it into account. In the long run, it is detrimental to keep your blood sugar too high to be on the safe side.

On average, persons with type 1 diabetes who are involved in working life estimate their health and working ability to be good and they are not planning an early retirement. The majority of them manage at work as well as the rest, even though the stress of juggling work and diabetes is fairly common.

Job interviews and pre-employment health examinations

At a job interview, you do not have to disclose health-related issues. Neither is the interviewer allowed to ask about your health unless it is related to your ability to perform your duties in a safe manner. That said, if having diabetes may lead to risky situations due to the nature of the job, you should mention it.

The employer is entitled to cancel the employment contract, if the employee has hidden their condition when applying for a job which is not suitable for a person with diabetes. At a pre-employment health examination, an occupational health physician familiar with the requirements of the job will comment on the suitability of the job for a person with diabetes as well as its effect on diabetes. Also, the work duties may not put the employee’s health at risk.

Being transparent

Many people find it hard to let others know that they have diabetes. At work, you should let at least your supervisor and closest colleagues know about your condition and its potential effects on your ability to work. If necessary, you can then also agree on the suitable courses of action with regard to working alone and taking breaks as well as possible job rotation trials. It is also a good idea to go through the first-aid measures related to low blood sugar together with your colleagues.

Some already have diabetes when applying for a job, whereas others may get it during employment. It is absolutely necessary to let occupational health know if you get diabetes, even if it is treated elsewhere. It is important to talk to your employer and occupational health about issues such as coping at work and your ability to work or, if necessary, consider making changes to your work tasks or changing roles.

Updated 8.11.2023