Managing your diabetes at work can pose challenges. So here are some tips to help.
Be Upfront with Your Employer About Your Needs
If your diabetes requires management during working hours, tell your employer you have the disease. Explain that you will need regular breaks and a private area where you can administer your test or medication, or eat and rest if your blood sugar rises and you need to wait for it to return to normal. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), your employer is required by law to accommodate such requests if the firm has 15 or more employees. Even at firms with fewer than 15 employees, many employers will be happy to accommodate these requests.
If your job involves shift work or a changing schedule your employer may be required to make an exception and give you set hours to accommodate your diabetes management, unless your employer can prove that working shifts is an essential function of your job and/or not working shifts causes an undue hardship for the employer.
The ADA also requires employers to give you leave for diabetes treatments, recovery from diabetes-related illnesses and for diabetes management training.
Ask Your Employer for Job Modifications
The "reasonable accommodation" provision of the ADA requires that employers make job modifications for people with disabilities (diabetes is considered a disability under the Act), if the modifications help the employee perform the job successfully. For example, if your have an amputated limb you can ask that the work site and/or your work area be modified to allow for crutches. Your employer is required to make modifications that help you perform your job successfully unless the employer can prove the modification will create a financial or practical hardship to the firm.
- Prepare a diabetes management kit and have it ready before it's time to leave for work. You may need to include a glucose meter, medication, healthy snacks (include extra snacks in case your blood sugar drops), and/or healthy meals if none are available nearby.
- Ask your health care provider for advice about managing your diabetes at work so you'll know what accommodations to ask for and what items you'll need in your kit.
- Tell coworkers how to help you if you go into hypoglycemic shock.