36% believe they would get no support from their employer if diagnosed with cancer

Paul Avis

More than a third (36%) of respondents believe they would receive no form of support from their employer if they were diagnosed with cancer, according to research by Canada Life Group Insurance.

Its survey of 1,010 full-time and part-time UK employees also found that 41% of respondents would be uncomfortable talking to their employer or their colleagues about a cancer diagnosis.

The research also found:

  • 21% of respondents do not know if their employer offers any support to those with a cancer diagnosis.
  • 45% of respondents who have been diagnosed with cancer before think that their employer would not provide any support for staff diagnosed with cancer.
  • 31% of respondents believe they would be granted flexible working and time off when needed if diagnosed with cancer, compared to 27% of respondents who have had or currently have cancer.
  • 16% of respondents believe their employer would provide occupational health support following a cancer diagnosis, and 25% of respondents think they would receive return-to-work support on their recovery.
  • 16% of respondents believe they would be provided with adjusted workloads, appraisals or performance targets if they were diagnosed with cancer, 13% think they would be able to access counselling and emotional support through the workplace, and 10% think their employer would offer financial benefits, such as critical illness cover, which could help after a cancer diagnosis.
  • 13% of respondents would be scared to tell their employer about a cancer diagnosis in case it negatively impacted the employer’s perception of their ability to perform their job.
  • 18% of respondents would feel uncomfortable asking for time off after a cancer diagnosis, and 17% would feel awkward discussing cancer with their employer.

Paul Avis (pictured), marketing director at Canada Life Group Insurance, said: “The fact that more than a third of people think they would get absolutely no support from their employer if diagnosed with cancer is extremely worrying. Hundreds of thousands of people are diagnosed with cancer each year in the UK and it is becoming more common among those of working age. The likelihood of having cancer increases with age and with an ageing workforce, 73% of whom have told us they cannot afford to retire, this is a problem that is going to get much worse.

“Cancer treatment can cause many to have to work reduced hours or stop working altogether. Sufferers should be able to make getting better their main priority without worrying about job security and financial stability.

“People who have personally experienced cancer are more skeptical about the support of their employer, which is particularly damning. While many employers might feel they are understanding and accommodating when it comes to cancer, it is clear that more needs to be done in terms of support.”