World Cancer Day: How to Support Employees with Cancer

World Cancer Day is a poignant reminder to address the challenges faced by employees dealing with cancer in the workplace. 

A recent survey by Maggie’s highlights that a significant portion of people with cancer in the UK use annual leave for appointments. This indicates the need for heightened awareness and support mechanisms.

Issues Faced by Employees With Cancer

Silent Struggles

Employees with cancer often navigate silent struggles, with many using annual leave for appointments without explicitly sharing the purpose. This suggests potential gaps in communication and understanding between employees and their workplaces.

Late Disclosures

A noteworthy revelation is that a substantial number only disclose their cancer diagnosis to colleagues when it becomes apparent due to treatment. Reasons for delayed disclosure include concerns about being treated differently, distracting colleagues, and a desire to maintain privacy.

Lack of Support

Many express dissatisfaction with the support received from their employers upon sharing their cancer diagnosis. This underscores the necessity for employers to reassess their strategies for providing assistance and fostering a supportive environment.

How Employers Can Offer Adequate Support

Encouraging Open Dialogue

To bridge the communication gap, employers must encourage open dialogue about health issues. Creating a workplace culture that values transparency can help employees feel more comfortable sharing their health concerns, fostering an atmosphere of trust.

Flexible Work Arrangements

Implementing flexible work arrangements is essential for accommodating the unique needs of employees with cancer. For example, this could involve adjusting work hours, allowing remote work, and providing leeway for medical appointments, contributing to maintaining overall team productivity.

Educational Initiatives

Proactive employers can initiate educational programmes on cancer awareness. Understanding the challenges faced by employees with cancer is the first step towards fostering empathy and creating a workplace that actively supports their well-being.

Supportive Work Environment

Creating a supportive work environment is crucial in alleviating fears associated with cancer disclosure. Employers should strive to eliminate stigma and ensure employees feel confident they won’t be treated differently after sharing their health status.

Return to Work for Employees with Cancer

Challenges of Returning to Work

Returning to work after a cancer diagnosis poses unique challenges. Some employees initially attempted to continue working during breast cancer treatment but found managing appointments and work commitments overwhelming, leading to a decision to step back.

Phased Return Programs for Employees with Cancer

Recommendations include the importance of a phased return to work, allowing employees to take the time needed for full recovery. Employers can implement phased return programs to support employees with cancer in transitioning back to work at their own pace.

Professional Guidance

Access to professional guidance during the return-to-work process is crucial. Thus, employees with cancer navigating work during diagnosis and treatment can benefit significantly from such support.

Employees with Cancer: Creating Awareness

Collaborative Initiatives for Employees with Cancer

Raising awareness within the workplace is key to supporting employees with cancer. Collaborative initiatives can play a pivotal role. They can provide employees with the knowledge and resources needed to reduce their cancer risk and make positive health choices.

Educating the Workforce

Educational initiatives, including workshops, webinars, and tailored communications, empower employees with information on making healthy changes, reducing cancer risks, and spotting early signs.

Positive Impact Statistics

Programme success is evident in statistics revealing high participant satisfaction. Participants are willing to recommend the workplace programme to colleagues, with many gaining a better understanding of ways to improve their health.

On World Cancer Day, it is crucial to reflect on the challenges faced by these employees and explore ways to enhance support within the workplace. Employers play a vital role in fostering a culture of empathy, understanding, and flexibility. 

Overall, addressing the unique needs of employees with cancer contributes to a more inclusive and supportive environment.  Ultimately, it can enhance the overall well-being of the workforce. 

Through educational initiatives and collaborative programmes, employers actively participate in raising awareness, ensuring that they feel valued, supported, and empowered in their professional journey.

If you or anyone you know suffers from cancer and needs reasonable adjustments in order to work, speak to your employer today. Should an employee not be provided with such adjustments, it could be a case of discrimination.

Our employment law specialists will discuss the facts of your case to determine the eligibility of your disability discrimination case. Should you have an eligible case, they could help you through the legal process.