New guide to dealing with cancer in the workplace

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CIPDA new guide has been published to help employers deal with cancer and cancer-related issues in the workplace.

The guide from the  followed research which showed that more than 40% of employers failed to provide any support or information to employees with cancer, even though the issue affected the vast majority of workplaces at some time.

According to the CIPD around 90,000 people of working age receive a cancer diagnosis each year, and often they require support from employers during their treatment and recuperation, as well as in their rehabilitation and return-to-work.

Since December last year it has been illegal for employers to discriminate against workers with serious health conditions such as cancer, under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).

However, the CIPD study, which was conducted with the help of Cancerbackup and the Working with Cancer group, found that two thirds of employers did not provide any training for managers to support employees with cancer.

More than 40% of employers did not provide any support or information to employees with cancer, while a further 36% did not know if such information or support was provided.

More than one in five employers (22%) were not aware that the Disability Discrimination Act now classed cancer as a disability, and nearly three-quarters (73%) did not have a formal policy in place for managing employees affected by the condition.

All-round support

Ben Willmott, employee relations adviser at the CIPD, said: "Employers that fail to provide support and advice to those diagnosed with cancer run the risk of losing talented and experienced employees who would otherwise continue to make a contribution to the organisation.

"At the extreme, employers could also find that insufficient support and unsympathetic attitudes leave them open to claims under the DDA – a fact that our survey shows one in five employers are unaware of."

The Working with Cancer group was formed last year by four women who had previously had cancer, with the aim of providing information to both employers and employees.

The group's spokeswoman, Barbara Wilson, who is also head of resourcing and development at Schroders, commented: "While I was being treated for cancer, I found I was surrounded by booklets to help me cope with the illness and the treatments, how to tell my children and so on. But there was nothing to help me deal with my employers, or to help them deal with me."

She said the guidance would help employers to understand how to manage those working with cancer, to provide appropriate information and support to their colleagues, and to help the employee with cancer keep working or return successfully to work after treatment.

The 'Cancer and working guidelines' can be downloaded free of charge from the CIPD website, along with a detailed copy of the survey findings - see links above/right.

source Norwich Union

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