Disability – Type 1 or Type 2?

The Employment Appeal Tribunal recently had to consider the issue is diabetes is a disability?

As some of you will know, Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body produces no insulin at all and therefore medication is required. Type 2 diabetes usually occurs after the age of 40 when there isn’t enough insulin in the body or the insulin isn’t working properly. Type 2 can requite medication but it can sometimes be managed through diet.  

In the case of Metroline Travel v Stoute 2015, Stoute was a bus driver who has Type 2 diabetes which was controlled through diet. He had a chequered employment history that did include him diverting his bus so he could buy a chicken kebab, in 2013 he was dismissed. Stoute argued that the decision amounted to disability discrimination on the grounds of his diabetes.

For a condition to be classed as a disability, the condition must have a substantial and long term effect on day to day activities. The judge which heard the case has Type 2 diabetes too and understood the effects that it can have on a person’s life. However, he ruled that where diabetes is managed solely through diet and no medication is required or needed then the individual is not automatically disabled. Where a person is insulin dependent control their diabetes they will generally be classed as disabled, and therefore will require you to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate their needs.

If you have a diabetic employee which claims to be disabled because of the condition always check which type they have and if it is Type 2, check how the condition is controlled. If it is Type 2 and medication is required then you may need to consider adjustments.


Authors: Roxanne Bradley

Published: 18 Aug 2015


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