How to Tell Your Employer You Have Diabetes

Arm yourself with the right information before discussing your diabetes with your boss.

Stacey Feintuch
Reviewed by
Philip Levy, MD
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So you just found out you have diabetes, and the time has come to share the news. It’s hard enough to tell your family and friends, never mind your boss.

The fact is, you’re not legally required to disclose your diabetes to your employer—unless you’re a pilot, enlisting in the army or in another field that may be restricted because of insulin use.

Now that you know the decision is totally yours, what will you do? Well, you have a few good reasons to open up about your diabetes. By informing your boss, you’ll be entitled to certain legal rights, as outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act. (To find out more about your rights at work, visit the EEOC’s site.)

Plus, it’s always a good idea for your employer or a coworker to know you have diabetes, in case your blood sugar plummets and you need medical help.

Decided to tell? Here are a few tips for making the conversation easier:

Before you chat
Talk with your endocrinologist, your diabetes educator and others on your healthcare team about working with diabetes. Find out how people feel while they’re getting the same kind of treatment you’re going through. Ask what work schedule they suggest and what accommodations you should ask for.

Determine your requests
Then, decide for yourself what you want your employer to do for you. You’ll probably need time off during the day to give yourself insulin injections or check your blood glucose levels. You’ll also need time to visit your doctor.

Aren’t sure how you’ll be feeling? Tell your boss that you’ll return with a plan once you know more about your health.

Beginning the conversation
Schedule an appointment with your boss or the human resources department so you’re guaranteed to have their attention and time. Speak with them in a private and comfortable area.

Take paper and a pen with you to document the conversation. You may want to get important issues in writing after your chat. 

April 2013