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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Employers, Jobs, and Diabetes

Professionally managed corporations are careful to screen potentially new recruits for serious diseases, before making long term commitments to salaries, job responsibilities, and to benefits. One would expect that people with diabetes would get screened out as a result, but this may not be the case always. A person with carefully managed diabetes, which has been detected at the outset, may escape detection by using hypoglycemic drugs and insulin. A new employee could continue to hide a condition of diabetes indefinitely, by taking medicines in private, and by avoiding indulgent eating at business events.

Gestational diabetes, pre-diabetes, and even type 2 diabetes may occur well after a person has been employed, and there would be no deception in such cases. However, all 3 conditions impose significant financial liabilities on employers in terms of reimbursements and insurance costs. Moreover, even the best managed case of diabetes may have occasional spells of hypo or hyperglycemia. Certainly, all employees known to have diabetes will require a range of special concessions with respect to work conditions: they must be allowed space and breaks to test blood sugar, to eat and drink exactly on time and in emergencies as well. Employees with diabetes also need relatively fixed hours of work, and should not have to travel frequently, especially between time zones.

Since diabetes is such a severe limitation of employment, organizations need to make special efforts to promote healthy eating and active lifestyles amongst their employees. Legal contracts of employments should also be reviewed in the light of country-specific laws related to the fair treatment of both recruits and staff with diabetes.


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