71% do not have policies to deal with employee cancer diagnoses

Cancer check

More than two thirds (71%) of employer respondents do not have any HR policies in place when it comes to communicating with or managing employees who have a cancer diagnosis, according to research by cancer detection services provider Check4Cancer.

Its Cancer in the workplace 2016 report, which surveyed 500 HR professionals, also found that 48% of respondents believe that line managers are unprepared to manage employees with cancer.

The research also found:

  • 61% of respondents do not have any policies in place to communicate with or manage staff returning to work after receiving cancer treatment.
  • 71% of respondents do not provide any information on cancer awareness or provide screening as a health benefit.
  • 44% of respondents do not currently offer cancer screening services and do not plan to in the future.
  • 46% of respondents feel that staff should tell their employer if they receive a cancer diagnosis.
  • 52% believe there will be a medium or high impact on levels of absenteeism from rising levels of cancer cases and survivors returning to work, 43% of respondents expect it to impact private medical insurance (PMI) premiums, and 39% expect it to affect other insurance premiums.
  • 34% of respondents have introduced free counselling specifically for cancer cases, 25% offer extended leave policies, and 20% provide family support services.
  • 27% of respondents are in the planning stages of introducing cancer screening to their organisation.

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Professor Gordon Wishart, chief medical officer at Check4Cancer, said: “Employers appear to be relying on their managers’ ability to think on their feet, and to treat cancer diagnoses as just another people management issue.

“The improving survival rates, 50% of patients now survive 10 years after a cancer diagnosis, mean that cancer is more like a chronic illness, requiring long-term attention and treatment, alongside appropriate support from employers as part of their duty of care, and for cancer as a recognised disability. An ageing workforce means cases of cancer will become more prevalent and have longer-term impact on organisations.”