Brief HR Guide to Support Employees with Diabetes

November 5, 20191:53 pm
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Diabetes is the most common disease in the Asia region, according to Asian Diabetes Prevention. Approximately 60 percent of Asia’s population lives with diabetes, with China and India is predicted to have almost half a billion diabetics by 2030.

The consequences of diabetes

Compounding its status, diabetes can have severe consequences if not adequately managed. It is a chronic condition in which insulin is not utilised properly. Then, it affects the manner in which the body metabolises sugar (glucose) and causes a person to have higher levels of glucose in the bloodstream than a healthy normal person does. These high levels of glucose can harden and damage blood vessels throughout the body with dire results. The damaged blood vessels can cause the following severe result:

  • visual loss or blindness,
  • kidney disease or kidney failure,
  • nerve damage in feet, legs and hands,
  • poor circulation in legs and feet that can lead to amputations,
  • heart disease, and
  • stroke

See also: Food at Work: Healthy Diet for Healthy Employees

The cost for employers

Oftentimes, employees would choose to remain silent about their illness due to fear of losing the job because employers might think that sick employees will decrease the team’s productivity. On the other hand, there are also employees with diabetes go undiagnosed because of a lack of knowledge.

Either way, it can be a threat to business bottom line. Why? A study published at Health Promotion Council found that employers are familiar with the significant costs associated with diabetes. On a national scale, it is estimated that the financial impact linked to diagnosed diabetes is close to US$250 billion. The study showed that people with diabetes have medical expenditures that are approximately 2.3 times higher than those without. Insurers have reported spending US5,000 a year for a member with pre-diabetes, US$10,000 with diabetes with no complications, and US$30,000 for an employee with diabetes complications. It concludes that a company can have a severe financial loss.

Minimising the cost

There is a way to minimise the cost of the treatment, however. Human resource department should work together with employees to address the issue by initiating health and wellness program. Offering health and wellness programs in the form of lifestyle modification and management program with diabetes as the most targeted condition is recommended.

The survey published at Health Promotion Council revealed that successful diabetes management and treatment programs are noteworthy. Regular eye exams and treatment can prevent up to 90 percent of diabetes-related blindness. National studies also concluded that for each dollar spent on diabetes management, employers can enjoy a US$4 return on investment.

Supporting employees with Diabetes

If, however, you find your employees have already suffered from the illness, an employer must acknowledge that people with diabetes are covered by the definition of disability under the Equality Act, even if they don’t consider themselves to have a disability. This is because diabetes is a life-long condition and can seriously affect a person’s ability to do normal day-to-day tasks. Therefore, diabetes employees also need reasonable adjustments in the workplace that should be assessed on an individual basis.

Commonly, diabetes employees need to look after themselves which involves taking medication at the right time and testing blood sugar levels. An employer might also need to provide flexible working hours and modified equipment, for example, for visually impaired people or a private space to take their insulin injections or do blood tests. Respectively, employers might need to make an adjustment and provides hygienic and private space for employees with diabetes to do their treatment at work.

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