Working with diabetes

Lots of teenagers work part time while they’re still at school and there’s no reason why having diabetes should stop you from doing this.

Telling the boss about diabetes

One of the big questions when applying for a job is “should I tell them I’ve got diabetes?” It’s understandable if you don’t want to tell anyone, but if you don’t you might run into trouble with testing, hypos, eating regularly and injections – so to avoid any problems it’s best to be open and honest.

You might be worried that they won’t understand, but usually once you’ve explained about diabetes, people are OK with it. If you show that you’re responsible, they realise that diabetes isn’t such a big deal. Your employer has a duty of care to provide a safe work environment, but equally, you have a duty of care to be responsible and manage your diabetes.

It’s a good idea to discuss with your employer about the need for:

  • regular meal breaks
  • somewhere private to test and inject
  • time out to treat a hypo
  • other staff to be aware of hypos, how to treat them and what to do in the case of an emergency

You may need support from your parents, someone at home or your diabetes educator when applying for a job. If you look after your diabetes well, you should be at no greater risk than anyone else of missing work opportunities. If you have any problems or you feel you are being discriminated against, contact your diabetes educator or State or Territory Diabetes association.

When you’re at work

These tips can help you manage your diabetes when you’re at work:

  • You may need to adjust your insulin (dose and/or timing) depending on the type of work you do eg. active on your feet type jobs, discuss this with your doctor or diabetes team.
  • Keep a well stocked hypo kit handy at all times
  • Don’t skip meal breaks – stop when you need to eat
  • Avoid leaving sharps (eg. syringes, pens, finger prickers) lying around
  • Don’t ignore a hypo – treat it immediately and re-treat if necessary
  • If you do shift work, talk to your diabetes team about changes you might need to make to your diabetes routine eg. injection times, meals etc.

Career choices for people with diabetes

People with type 1 diabetes can usually follow the career path of their choice, with a few exceptions:

  • the defence forces e.g. army, navy, air force
  • full time or volunteer fire brigade
  • the police force
  • the aviation industry – commercial and private
  • careers that involve high risk activities e.g. at heights, underwater or solo in nature

Should you need further information regarding career options, please call your State or Territory Diabetes association.

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