Your employee may be looking after someone who has cancer. Becoming a carer is often unexpected and can be very emotionally and physically demanding. It can sometimes be very hard to juggle caring and working at the same time. But working carers have legal rights, which aim to help them stay in work. These include the right to time off during an emergency and to request flexible working.
Caring responsibilities may cause absences. An employee might take sick or annual leave when a crisis happens, rather than asking for time off to care for someone with cancer. Often this is because people wrongly believe their caring role isn’t a valid reason to request leave. Or the carer may not feel comfortable telling you they are looking after someone.
Cancer can be unpredictable. Someone with cancer may need long cycles of treatment, with lots of hospital outpatient appointments. So carers may need time off work at short notice.
Side effects and symptoms can also continue after treatment is over, so you may need to be flexible for a while.
As soon as you’re aware that an employee is caring for someone, talk to them about your organisation’s policies, their rights as a carer and their options for leave. Letting them know what you need from them will also help you support them.