Bosses relying on knee-jerk approach for staff with cancer according to recent research


Employers are being left exposed to the fallout from cancer cases because of a lack of planning. Recent research by Cancer in the Workplace found that 71% of HR managers surveyed don’t have any policies in place for employees with a cancer diagnosis. 48% believe line managers are unprepared and 13% say managers are not prepared at all.

With over half of respondents believing line manager relation is the most important form of support in this situation, these figures are shocking. The report revealed that 71% of HR professional said their organisations don’t provide any information on cancer awareness and 44% don’t offer cancer screening services. HR professionals were also asked whether they feel employees should be open about their condition and nearly half (46%) said staff should have to tell their employer.

Additionally, 40% of HR managers say they don’t think senior executives are aware of potential risks and costs when considering the implications of cancer in the workplace. Professor Gordon Wishart, chief medical officer of Check4Cancer, commented: “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. Diagnosis of cancer is clearly a very serious health issue - but also one that has long-term implications for the individual and their team members, colleagues and friends in the workplace.

“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.”

Despite these large figures, there is however evidence in the report that shows how employers are responding to the threat. 34% of HR managers said they have introduced free counselling, 25% have brought in extended, non-statutory leave, 20% now offer family support and 27% say their organisation is in the process of introducing cancer screening.