This guest blog is written by my good friend Suzan St Maur, who is an online business journalist and multi-published nonfiction author. She is also Chair of the Milton Keynes Cancer Patient Partnership, and lectures on cancer survivorship. She has had cancer twice.
Did you know that right now there are more than 700,000 people of working age in the UK who are living with cancer? And did you know that more than 100,000 working-age people in the UK are diagnosed with cancer every year?
For any employee a diagnosis of cancer comes as a huge shock with an accompanying sense of isolation and despair. Many employers these days are very sympathetic and support the cancer patient well, but equally I have heard stories of a less than supportive attitude – especially, sadly, among some major corporates with rigidly defined and rather bureaucratic, inflexible HR policies.
Cancer is a word which has spooked many of our governmental organizations and authorities, along with larger companies. Why? Because it doesn’t fit comfortably into any conventional pigeon holes as far as employment is concerned.
• Is it a disability if it doesn’t affect the person’s physical or mental capabilities?
• Is it a temporary disease with the possibility of becoming terminal?
• Is it a chronic disease like diabetes or MS – but with the possibility in many cases of a cure?
• Can staff continue working during some or all of their treatment?
• If not, will they come back to work when their treatment is done?
Some good advice for employers
Fortunately the UK cancer charity Macmillan has produced a very comprehensive free pack that covers the best ways for employers to handle cancer for employees with a cancer diagnosis, and for working carers of cancer patients. Here are a couple of brief excerpts:
“At Macmillan, we know that employers play a pivotal role in supporting people with cancer and their carers. We also know that a good relationship between an employer and an employee is more likely to lead to a successful return-to-work. This is particularly important because less than 40 percent of people are advised by health professionals about the impact cancer and its treatment may have on their ability to work.”
“Supporting employees who are diagnosed with cancer makes business sense for employers. By making reasonable adjustments, employers can retain their employees and allow them to perform to their potential.”
What the Macmillan pack contains:
• Managing Cancer In The Workplace: an employer’s guide to supporting staff affected by cancer (100 page book)
• Work And Cancer: a guide for people living with cancer (100 page book)
• Work It Out: essential questions to ask about work and cancer (booklet)
• Work And Cancer: top 10 tips for line managers
• Working While Caring For Someone With Cancer (60 page book)
• …plus a poster for promotion of cancer awareness, and various other leaflets.
How to get your pack
As I mentioned this pack, entitled “The Essential Work And Cancer Toolkit,” is available to employers free of charge from the Macmillan website, here:
For employers, it really is worthwhile to acquire a copy of this “toolkit” in its neat green A5 size box as a reference tool. Let us hope you won’t need to use it but if you do, the information will be very useful. For employees and anyone either diagnosed or suspected of having cancer, the Macmillan site offers a great deal of very helpful advice on a wide variety of cancer-related topics. Go http://macmillan.co.uk.
My sincere thanks to Suze for making us aware of such a valuable resource for employers.
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