77% of staff with cancer do not think benefits meet their needs

cancer benefits needsMore than three-quarters (77%) of employees with cancer do not think their employee benefits fully meet their needs, according to research by specialist cancer support services provider Reframe Cancer.

Its The employee experience report: living and working with cancer report, which surveyed 500 UK adults who are employed with cancer or have finished their treatment, also found that more than half (58%) of respondents who did not think their benefits meet their need are male and earn less than £30,000 per year, while 68% of those who earn more than £5,000 per month and 90% of those that earn under £1,500 a month said the same.

The average employee will be absent from work for 12 days for pre-diagnosis worries and symptoms, 16 days for diagnosis and testing, 24 days for treatment and 23 days for recovery.

More than half (55%) only told their employer after their cancer diagnosis had been confirmed, 11% waited until they were undergoing treatment or when their treatment finished, and 18% told them while undergoing tests. Almost half (48%) felt pressured to keep working during their cancer journey.

The NHS is the primary source of cancer care for 92% of employees, with 62% receiving treatment exclusively through the NHS and 30% a combination of both NHS and private care. Only 6% received treatment exclusively through private healthcare.

More than two-fifths (45%) believe their colleagues consider them a burden during their cancer journey, and 35% do not feel they can openly talk about their diagnosis and treatment and feel isolated at work. Employees who feel this way take 4.7 weeks off work during their diagnosis, treatment and recovery, compared to the average of 4.3 weeks.

Mark Stephenson, chief executive officer at Reframe Cancer, said: “Sadly, the research also shows that stigmatisation of cancer is very real, and many employees feel as though they have to hide their cancer diagnosis, concerns and even symptoms, in 2024 this feels so wrong. This needs to be a massive wake-up call to employers, brokers and insurers about the importance of cancer support in the workplace. We praise the few employers and insurers which are leading the way on this cancer support in the workplace.”