Understandably, if you’re diagnosed with cancer it can be a very distressing time, and it will undoubtedly upset various aspects of your life. Currently, there are 2.5 million people in the UK living with cancer and it’s predicted that 1 in 2 people born after 1960 in the UK will be diagnosed with some sort of cancer during their lifetime. This means that unfortunately, cancer is more commonplace in our lives than we’d like, and therefore reasonable adjustments must be made in the workplace to accommodate those going through the turbulence of cancer. We understand that as an employee, or employer, it is difficult to know how cancer affects those at work. Use this post to gain some advice on how to broach the subject, and more importantly ensure that everyone suffering from cancer is being treated fairly, and has the right support in place to get through this difficult time.
It’s often the case that when a person has been diagnosed with cancer, they’ll need to take time off work, whether it’s for treatment or due to feeling unwell. Employers are legally obligated to provide time off work for this, as individuals are protected against discrimination by the Equality Act 2010, something we’ll go into detail on a little later in this post.
If you’re suffering from cancer, or one of your employees is, it’s important to have a conversation so that the right support can be put in place throughout the course of the treatment, and when returning to work. This support can be given in various ways, whether it’s through workplace adjustments, sick pay or time off work. Depending on how long an individual is off work for, they may need an absence management plan in order to plan their return to work post-treatment.
There are 2 types of absence management plans that are provided as part of a sickness management service:
Generally, putting a proactive absence management plan is the most effective way of dealing with time off work. It helps to manage expectations around when a person will be absent from work, planning for this time off and then ensuring their return to work is as smooth as possible.
A reactive absence management plan is drawn up if a person suddenly has to go off work, perhaps to start treatment immediately. This type of plan is solely focussed on arranging when that person will be fit to return to work.
Shockingly, Macmillan has estimated that around 25% of people in the UK face poor health or disability after treatment for cancer. Which naturally, has a large effect on how that person feels and performs within the workplace.
The 4 key types of discrimination an individual could face are:
All workers in England and Wales with cancer are protected from discrimination in the workplace under the Equality Act 2010. This ensures that those with cancer are protected from being treated less fairly than other employees. To ensure that employees with cancer are being treated fairly, and in other words not being discriminated against, employers should make reasonable adjustments to ensure the wellbeing of their workers.
Making reasonable adjustments is all about making the necessary changes within the workplace to enable workers to remain at work. The adjustments required should be assessed on a case by case basis, as it will depend on the place of work, and an individual’s job role and their responsibilities.
Some of the adjustments you could make are:
The adjustments you make should be right for the individual, so it’s important to have a discussion with them to work out how best to do this.
According to Macmillan, 18% of people returning to work after being diagnosed with cancer say they face discrimination in the workplace. What’s more, 35% report further bad experiences, such as being made to feel guilty for taking time off or being made to feel less confident in their own ability.
In many patients, returning to work can help give them regain a sense of normality and purpose which can be lost when suffering from cancer. Others say it is their need for money, or simply they just enjoy their job. To help employees return to work as easily as possible you should work on the following areas:
If you require further support from DBOCC health on managing cancer in the workplace or putting the right procedures in place to protect your team get in touch. We’re passionate about keeping employees happy and productive both inside and outside of the workplace.
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