Diabetes affects people in different ways. Diabetes has the potential to be disabling, but for many, it can be well managed with education and supports, diet, exercise, and often medication.
People with diabetes have the right to be assessed on an individual basis to determine their fitness for various things, including work, insurance, driving, and participation in school, sports, or other activities.
A person with diabetes should be eligible for employment in any occupation for which he or she is individually qualified.
In being considered for employment in safety-sensitive positions, a person with diabetes has the right to be assessed for specific job duties on his or her own merits based on reasonable standards applied consistently.
Employers have the duty to accommodate employees with diabetes unless the employer can show it to cause undue hardship to the organization.
Undue hardship arises as part of the legislative requirement that employers must change workplace policies, rules, practices and operations that result in discrimination, and provide individual accommodation unless it would lead to "undue" or unreasonable hardship on the part of the employer.
The question of what constitutes undue hardship varies; however, courts have made it clear that employers must expect to experience some cost in eliminating barriers and providing accommodation. Questions arise over when the threshold of undue hardship has been reached. The Canadian Human Rights Act provides that undue hardship must be assessed considering "health, safety and cost". The mere fact that some cost, financial or otherwise, will be incurred is insufficient to establish undue hardship. (Source: A Place for All: A Guide to Creating an Inclusive Workplace, The Canadian Human Rights Commission)
Background and rationale
People with diabetes may face discrimination in the workplace simply because they have diabetes. Most people with diabetes can perform their job duties with minimal accommodation by the employer, such as nutrition breaks, time for glucose level monitoring, appropriate area for glucose monitoring and/or injection of insulin.
Employers have terminated, demoted or denied positions to employees with diabetes without having adequate knowledge of the disease and without reasonable investigation into individual circumstances. Individual assessment tools tailored specifically for the job circumstances and developed jointly by the employer, employee, and health-care practitioner can minimize such occurrences.
Advocate for Diabetes Canada
Make a difference to people with diabetes.Learn more About Advocate for Diabetes Canada
Find out more about the rights of people with diabetes in the workplace.Learn more About Employment Discrimination
Driving and Licensing
Read Diabetes Canada's policy position on commercial and private driving for people with diabetes.Learn more About Driving and Licensing