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Many people will continue to work after or even through their cancer treatment. For people who have experienced ill health or disability, remaining in or returning to work can actually help to promote recovery and lead to better health outcomes.
This video provides an insight into managing someone working with cancer.
The information in this video was correct as of 26 March 2012.
Over 100,000 people of working age are diagnosed with cancer in the UK each year and there are currently over 700,000 people of working age living with a cancer diagnosis.
Many people living with cancer tell Macmillan that work is important to them. A job can restore normality, routine, stability, social contact and income. These things are also important to carers. Around one in eight workers in the UK are carers|, many of whom will be supporting a friend or relative with cancer.
At Macmillan, we know that employers play a pivotal role in supporting people with cancer and their carers. We also know that a good relationship between an employer and an employee is more likely to lead to a successful return-to-work. This is particularly important because less than 40% of people are advised by health professionals about the impact cancer and its treatment may have on their ability to work.
As an employer or line manager, you may not always feel confident about how best to support an employee who is affected by cancer. There are challenges at the time of diagnosis, during treatment, at the time of return-to-work and afterwards. We also recognise that you need to meet the needs of other individuals in the workplace and your organisation as a whole. In these difficult situations, you may also be affected, both on a practical and a personal level.
Supporting employees who are diagnosed with cancer makes business sense for employers. By making reasonable adjustments, employers can retain their employees and allow them to perform to their potential.
Being confident about disability issues not only helps an employer avoid legal risk, it can enhance the performance of the organisation and the individuals within it.
By implementing some small changes you can really make the difference to your employees who have been affected by cancer. These changes could include arranging time off for medical appointments, or making reasonable adjustments such as offering flexible working arrangements or organising a phased return-to-work.
For employees, a supportive approach from employers can reduce anxiety and provide the skills and confidence to deal with cancer at work. Research commissioned by Macmillan has shown that a good relationship with the employer and a phased return-to-work are two important predictors of a successful adjustment back to work.
Over 70% of organisations that make workplace adjustments consider them to be easy. Many adjustments have no cost at all. Where there is some cost to the adjustment, it’s usually small, and grants from the Access to Work scheme| can cover some or all of the cost.
There is a clear business case for employers to support people affected by cancer to return to work.
It’s essential to work with the employee to understand their requirements. Each person will have individual needs and aspirations, and employers need to treat each case as such. For example, flexible working can be as simple as agreeing to accommodate the employee coming in late occasionally if they are feeling unwell. Pivotal to this is maintaining good communication between the employee and the manager.
Our cancer support specialists| can provide emotional support to employees and line managers, as well as put them in touch with other sources of information and support. Call us free on 0808 808 00 00 (9am–8pm, Mon–Fri).
Content last reviewed: 1 May 2011
Next planned review: 2013
For answers, support or just a chat, call the Macmillan Support Line free (Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm)
If you have any questions about cancer, need support or just want someone to talk to, ask Macmillan.
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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