Learning and Work
Jobs you can and can't do...
These days there are very few jobs you can't do because of your
diabetes and having diabetes doesn't mean that you won't be able to
find a job. But as with everyone else it is important to apply for
jobs that interest you, ones which suit you and you are qualified
Thinking about the future can be very scary and not everyone knows
what they want to do. Before you begin to seriously consider jobs
it is advisable to be aware of the jobs you cannot do. Some jobs
have blanket restrictions placed on individuals with insulin
treated diabetes applying for them, these are mainly where a job is
seen as being hazardous in some way. These jobs include the
- Jobs requiring a heavy good vehicle licence or a licence to
drive certain passenger carrying vehicles (e.g. airline
- Armed forces
- Police force
- Fire service
- Ambulance service (front line emergency services)
- Working off shore, (e.g. on oil rigs or aboard cruise
- Working at heights
- Horse jockey
- Train driving
Whilst this may seem unfair this is the situation at present,
but things may change in the future. Contact Diabetes UK for more
information about these issues.
Where to start..
Discussions with teachers, family, friends or a careers adviser
will help you to form some ideas about which job or career may
interest you. Once you have some ideas it is useful to find out as
much information as you can about the job and what will be
Once you have decided on the type of work you would like to do
the next step is to look for job opportunities. Jobs are usually
advertised in the local and national newspapers regularly. Your
local Employment Agency or Connexions also offer help and advise
about local job vacancies. If you are looking for a particular type
of work you could write to appropriate employers or organisations
requesting information about current or future job vacancies.
Writing your CV..
Knowing where to start and what to put in a Curriculum Vitae
(CV) can be confusing. Your CV should include information about
yourself, your education, qualifications and relevant experience.
Be precise and include a summary of what you have achieved.
Remember a CV that is too long or too many pages may well be
ignored, you can always expand on the things you have included in
your CV if you get an interview. You do not need to mention your
diabetes on your general CV. Contact www.connexions-direct.com for
useful advise and guidance on writing a CV.
Completing an application form...
Some jobs require a completed job application form, some jobs
will request a completed application form and a CV whilst other
jobs require a CV only to apply. Application forms are to provide
information about yourself and information about your suitability
for a job. You do not need to mention your diabetes on the general
application form unless it contains health information
Diabetes should be disclosed on any separate health
questionnaire you are required to complete as part of a job
What and when to tell employers about your diabetes...
If a job application form has a section on health this is the
place to disclose you have diabetes. It is important that you
answer honestly. You can use descriptions such as 'well controlled
diabetes' (so long as this is true), where you are asked about
Keeping your diabetes a secret in a job interview is not
advisable. It is important to tell the people you are going to work
with about your diabetes. However this should not dominate the
interview. It is important to emphasise your strengths and skills
(e.g. enthusiasm, ability, reliability). If your diabetes is not
discussed as part of the interview, it is advisable for you to
disclose this at the first appropriate opportunity.
- Emphasise the positive - having diabetes means you take care of
- Looking after your diabetes takes discipline, self reliance and
maturity - all are qualities an employer will value.
- Get used to explaining your diabetes in an interview situation.
Practice going over what you may be asked and explaining your
diabetes to a friend.
A confident explanation about your diabetes and how it affects
you along with an indication of what you may need to manage this at
work. This tells an employer that you know your condition well, how
it affects you, that you are taking responsibility for this and
won't be relying on others to do this for you. These are all
desirable qualities to an employer.
It is advisable to avoid negative statements such as:
- Sometimes I won't be able to do any work when I'm having a
- You will always know when I'm having a hypo because I get
annoyed with people and shout.
- I will always need to have someone with me just in case I have
- It will be difficult for me to get to work on time because I
have to do blood tests.
Being in control...
Be responsible for yourself at work. Don't expect work
colleagues to look out for your hypo's and don't use your diabetes
as an excuse to avoid work or particular jobs you don't like.
If your diabetes is not well controlled, get some help from the
diabetes team. If you are doing your best to manage you diabetes
then an employer will be more helpful and sympathetic towards
The first step is telling your employer at interview about your
diabetes. Then it's sensible to tell the people you will be working
Try to do this in a positive way. Many people are badly informed
about diabetes. Ignorance and fear are not uncommon, if people do
not fully understand diabetes. It is useful to rehearse a simple
explanation about diabetes, this is all you need to give. If you
don't present your diabetes to others as a problem then it is less
likely that others will see it this way also. This will reduce over
reactions from others and ensure that your hypo is dealt with
correctly if one happens at work. Its always useful to know who is
the first aider and make sure they know what to do in an
Leaflets can be a useful way of providing others with
information to assist them:
Diabetes UK email www.diabetes.org.uk
NHS Direct email www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk tel:
or your local Diabetes clinic will be able to provide you with
What if I have a hypo at work?
Hopefully this will not happen but, you do need to be prepared.
(see section on
hypo's for more information)
It is always worth looking at why a hypo happens at work (e.g.
not having regular breaks), as these are issues that you can
discuss with an employer to make sure this avoided in the future
and doesn't become a problem.
Taking time off...
All employees need to take time off work at some time due to
illness or to attend hospital appointments, whether they have
diabetes or not. It may be helpful if you could arrange clinic
appointments together and give an employer plenty of advance notice
If you need to take time off due to illness always keep your
employer informed, seek medical advice promptly if required.
Your diabetes should not prevent you from doing a job that
involves shift work. However it is always advisable to discuss your
diabetes management regime with a member of the diabetes team to
ensure it allows you the flexibility required for shift
What if you feel you have not been fairly treated?
It's a fact that in the course of finding employment you may
encounter ignorance and prejudice. Not everyone is aware that
well-controlled diabetes doesn't need to be a problem at work. Some
employers may assume that having diabetes means that you will be
off sick more or will need to be treated differently from
If you have been refused a job and you think it's because of
your diabetes you can appeal. People with diabetes are protected
under the Disability Discrimination Act, making it unlawful to
discriminate against an individual on medical grounds. To find out
more about your rights visit the Diabetes Uk website at www.diabetes.org.uk/dcn
or contact the Disability Rights Commission www.drc.org.uk or call 08457 622
Other useful contacts:
- Local Disability Employment Advisers (DEAs)
- Chester: Mr John Jones, 01244 583130
- Ellesmere Port: Mrs Marie Loise Warren, 0151 551 8060
- Diabetes UK Careline