Just one-third (30%) of employers offer support for serious illnesses such as cancer to help their employees stay in or return to work, according to research by industry body Group Risk Development (Grid).
Its survey of 500 HR decision-makers at UK businesses and 1,210 workers, which has been published to coincide with World Cancer Day (4 February), also found that of these respondents, 24% of large employers provide support for serious illness including cancer and heart disease, and access to medical specialists such as oncologists, with 42% of medium-sized, 32% of small and 17% of micro employers doing the same.
This is despite serious ill-health being a concern for 12% of employee respondents of all ages, rising to 19% of those aged 55 and above.
According to Grid’s claims data from 2016-2022, cancer is the main reason employers claim for their staff across all group risk benefits, including employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness.
Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for Grid, said: “When someone is diagnosed with cancer, it can feel like the rug has been pulled from beneath their feet. When the time is right, being in work and all the positives that entails, such as providing stability, satisfaction, stimulation, and a sense of self-worth, are hugely important for the individual. Employers need to step up and ensure they are enabling people with cancer to remain in the workplace if they wish to do so.
“It is inevitable that time off work will almost certainly be necessary for those staff who are diagnosed with a disease such as cancer, but it is certainly not inevitable that these people will call time on their job altogether. Remaining in or returning to work is often a very positive experience when many other elements of an employee’s life are in flux. Employers need to go out of their way to ensure they are doing everything they can to facilitate this and help to close the cancer care gap.”