Rights and Responsibilities for Employees with Diabetes: An Employer Perspective

By Diathrive Health

Two employees meeting in an open area

As diabetes becomes more common in the United States, employees and employers must understand the Americans with Disabilities Act as it applies to employees with diabetes.

Although the challenges of diabetes in the workplace vary among individuals, employees with diabetes can overcome these challenges and better manage care with the help of an employer who is aware of them.

For employers, it's important to understand the legal rights of those living with diabetes and your responsibility to maximize the health and productivity of your employees with diabetes.

Smart employers know that helping employees with diabetes stay healthy is good for business. We will explore ways employers and employees can work together to address concerns around diabetes and make minor adjustments to the work environment respectfully.

Diabetes is a Disability

Some disabilities are visible and easy to identify. Others may not be. Diabetes is considered an "invisible" disability and can be present even if a person with diabetes is healthy and the condition is well managed.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, diabetes is a disability because it substantially limits major life activities, such as the functioning of the endocrine system. Any person with diabetes, whether insulin or non–insulin-treated, should be eligible for any employment for which they are otherwise qualified.

Reasonable Accommodations

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), an employer must offer reasonable accommodation to an employee with diabetes as long as the accommodation does not pose an undue hardship to the employer. Undue hardship means that providing reasonable accommodation would result in significant difficulty or expense.

For most employees with diabetes, simple accommodations to facilitate diabetes management on the job have little to no associated costs.

Many accommodations for people with diabetes are relatively minor and inexpensive. Reasonable accommodations can include the following:

These modifications will enable employees to be more productive and efficient while working. Employers can also ask an employee requesting accommodation what the employee needs to help perform the job. The key is for the employee and the employer to initiate an open dialogue about the employee's needs and the employer's capacity to meet those needs.

Resources for Employers

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provides employers and employees with materials and assistance regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act. Below are some helpful resources.

To consider how a holistic diabetes management solution can help your employees stay healthy, learn more at Diathrive Health.