Progressive Conditions – Is Diabetes a Disability?

Sarah Begley - The Wilkes Partnership, Employment Solicitor, Birmingham, Solihull

There are two types of diabetes: type 1 which is controlled by insulin and is usually defined as a disability under the Equality Act 2010 and type 2, which can be controlled by diet and/or medication. So does this mean type 2 diabetes can be defined as a disability too?

Yes, was the decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal in the case of, Taylor v Ladbrokes Betting & Gaming Ltd.

Sarah Begley of The Wilkes Partnership considers the key points of the decision and what employers need to do in order to ensure they are following correct procedures when identifying an employee with a disability. 

After being dismissed from Ladbrokes Betting & Gaming Ltd, Mr Taylor declared he had been disabled for a year before dismissal, due to type 2 diabetes. The Employment tribunal decided the he was not disabled after reviewing two medical reports. Mr Taylor appealed.

The Judge hearing the case on appeal disagreed with the Tribunal’s findings. Type 2 diabetes, as a progressive condition, would amount to a disability even if it did not have a substantial effect at that time, as long as it was likely to result into such a condition where it would affect their ability to carry out normal day to day activities. The EAT remitted the case back to Tribunal to reconsider the issue as the Judge felt that the medical evidence was not clear and had been misinterpreted.

Sarah Begley comments: “This is an interesting and important decision. This case illustrates that employers should be careful not to automatically assume that diabetes and/or other common progressive conditions are not a disability. Each case will be determined its own facts and on this basis it is vital to consider and investigate the substantial effect on the employee’s normal daily activities present and future under The Equality Act 2010 before reaching a decision on whether or not the employee has a disability”.

To discuss anything arising from this update, please contact Sarah Begley on 0121 733 4312 or via email at sbegley@wilkes.co.uk. You can also contact  any other member of the Employment Team on 0121 233 4333.