Insurance · 1 June 2016

Would you know what to do if an employee was diagnosed with cancer?

More than 350, 000 people are diagnosed with a form of cancer in the UK every year
Almost 90 per cent of small business leaders don’t have a policy in place for communicating with and managing employees who have been diagnosed with cancer, new research has revealed.

Corporate health screening organisation Check4Cancer questioned 500 HR managers about their plans for helping employees when they are being treated for the disease, and over half were of the opinion that their organisation was unprepared for such a situation.

More than 350, 000 people are diagnosed with a form of cancer in the UK every year, of whom 100, 000 are of working age.

The most common measures firms currently have in place are free counselling for cancer sufferers, which almost one-third of businesses provide, and extended non-statutory leave for people affected by the disease, which 25 per cent of organisations offer.

Gordon Wishart, chief medical officer of Check4Cancer, said: Employers appear to be relying on their managers? ability to think on their feet, and to treat cancer diagnoses as just another people management issue. Diagnosis of cancer is clearly a very serious health issue – but also one that has long-term implications for the individual and their team members, colleagues and friends in the workplace.

the improving survival rates 50 per cent of patients now survive for ten years after a cancer diagnosis – mean that cancer is more like a chronic illness, requiring long-term attention and treatment, alongside appropriate support from employers as part of their duty of care, and for cancer as a recognised disability. An ageing workforce means cases will become more prevalent and have longer-term impact on organisations.

Those surveyed were also divided on whether employees should be obliged to tell managers about a cancer diagnosis, with one-in-five unsure about their opinion on the matter.

For those small business owners who are made aware that a staff member is fighting the disease, the Disability Discrimination Act requires them to make reasonable adjustments to help them if a sufferer wants to stay at work during treatment.

Guidance on the website of cancer charity Macmillan advises small business owners: If you run a small business and one of your employees is affected by cancer, it can have an impact on finances. Your employee may need to take time off for treatment, or to take care of someone else with cancer.



Hannah Wilkinson is a reporter for Business Advice. She studied economics and management at Oxford University and prior to joining Business Advice wrote for Kensington and Chelsea Today about business and economics as well as running a tutoring company.

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