Getting Sick

Rights for Workers with Diabetes During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The answer to this question depends on many things—both related to your health and your particular job. In short, the American Diabetes Association recommends that you consult with your treating provider to make an individualized determination.

Early studies are finding connections between COVID-19 outcomes and a patient’s glucose management, BMI, other conditions, and age. Consult with your physician about your condition to better understand your risk. If your treating provider has questions about COVID-19 and diabetes, they can review our COVID-19 resources for professionals.

The nature of your job and whether you are able to reduce risk by things such as wearing PPE, working behind a plexiglass shield, working outside or far away from others will all factor into your risk of exposure.

  1. As a person with diabetes, you qualify for protection by the Americans with Disabilities Act. That federal law requires covered employers to provide employees with disabilities, such as diabetes, reasonable accommodations so that they can perform their job functions.
  2. In addition, employees who have worked more than 1,250 hours in 12 months for companies with more than 50 people are entitled to protection under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This law provides 12 weeks of leave for employees who themselves have, or have a family member with, a serious health condition.
  3. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act—which includes the Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA)—provided paid leave, but expired Dec. 31, 2020. New laws may be passed in the future to extend paid leave protections.

A reasonable accommodation is any change to the application or hiring process, to the job, to the way the job is done, or the work environment that allows a person with a disability who is qualified for the job to perform the essential functions of that job or enjoy equal employment opportunities. Reasonable accommodations, as their name implies, must be reasonable. This means they cannot pose an undue hardship on your employer.

For more information on reasonable accommodations, refer to the American Diabetes Association’s fact sheet.

They will vary based on an individual’s job functions. The most common accommodations that people with diabetes are requesting are:

  • Telework
  • Temporary reassignment of certain job functions to allow for physical distancing
  • Temporary reassignment to another position that is vacant
  • Leave
  • Provision of parking so that employee may avoid public transit
  • Permission to use personal protective equipment such as gloves/masks

Example: Whether your request to wear a mask is a reasonable accommodation may depend on several factors. Some of those factors could include: if you are providing your own mask or requesting that the employer provide one; what your particular condition and attendant risks are; whether your job functions pose additional risks (e.g. health care workers); and more.

Leave may be considered a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Specifying an end date (or projected end date) and providing support in the form of a letter from your treating health care provider can help your employer understand your need for leave.

Yes. There is no “limit” on how many accommodations a person may request.