- Working To Wellbeing’s Window to the Workplace research finds just one in four (23%) of UK line managers would proactively explain to a colleague with a long-term health condition, such as cancer, their rights at work according to the Equality Act 2010
- 47% of line managers feel they would be able to offer and support with some reasonable adjustments in their workplace to colleagues with cancer
- Just over one in three (36%) of workers who have/had cancer in the workplace have been satisfied that they received reasonable adjustments to their job to manage their health
- Working To Wellbeing’s Cancer Support Service focuses on physical, cognitive, psychological and emotional components of cancer; 3 in 4 people it works with have a successful sustained or returned to work
Just one in four (23%) of UK line managers would proactively explain to a colleague with a long-term health condition, such as cancer, their rights at work according to the Equality Act 2010, finds Working To Wellbeing’s Window to the Workplace research1.
The 2010 Equality Act2 considers a progressive condition, such as cancer, as a disability even if an individual is currently able to carry out normal day-to-day activities and are protected as soon as they have a diagnosis. UK employers have a responsibility to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate the needs of a person with a disability and these adjustments must be considered with a specific individual and their specific role in mind.
While encouragingly, almost three in four (72%) of UK line managers understand what reasonable adjustments mean when it comes to supporting colleagues with cancer, only 47% feel they would be able to offer and support them with some reasonable adjustments in their workplace, falling to just 40% of line managers aged under 35.
However, Working To Wellbeing, the back-to-work rehabilitation specialist, found in its study that just over one in three (36%) of workers who have/had cancer in the workplace have been satisfied that they received reasonable adjustments to their job to manage their health. This falls even lower among women; to 33% of women vs 39% of men, and lower again among older workers (25% of those aged 55+).
Furthermore, among those UK workers who have/have had cancer:
- only 29% have been satisfied with the physical workplace modifications they’ve been offered
- 42% have been satisfied with the flexible working offered and 28% satisfied with the coaching offered
- only 34% have been satisfied with the job redesign offered (37% of men vs 31% of women)
Cancer Survivor, HR professional and owner of JGHR Limited, Julie Grabham, believes that employers could play a huge role in improving cancer survival simply by supporting employees to attend screening appointments. During her own treatment, she learned many employees cannot get paid time off work to attend and often 40% of screening appointments are no-shows. Now recovered, Julie is currently petitioning for laws to be changed to enable mandatory time off for screening appointments – which would mean cancer could be picked up at an earlier stage – it’s just one way that employers can improve support (and survival rates) at work.
Employers can definitely do better.
Macmillan3 estimates that there are currently 3 million people living with cancer and there are 890,000 people of working age living with cancer in the UK. Research4 by UK think-tank Policy Exchange, estimates the loss in productivity of cancer survivors who were unable to return to paid work in the UK at £5.3bn in 2010 which could rise if, as expected, the number of people in the UK with cancer rises to 3.5m by 20253.
Dr Julie Denning, managing director, chartered health psychologist at Working To Wellbeing and Chair of the Vocational Rehabilitation Association said: “The growing incidence of cancer in the workforce is a risk that employers can not afford to ignore; or they will no doubt be faced with reduced productivity, low retention, poor morale and increased costs. As well as making business-sense to take the front-foot, employers have a legal obligation via the Equality Act 2010 to support employees with disabilities, including those diagnosed with cancer, ensuring reasonable adjustments are made for them at work.
“In our decade-long experience as a back-to-work rehabilitation specialist, we’ve found that most people with cancer want and need to be in work. Our study has shown though that still only one in three have felt satisfied that they received reasonable adjustments to their job to manage their health, with few feeling satisfied with the level of workplace modifications, flexible working and coaching offered too.
“At Working To Wellbeing we focus on physical, cognitive, psychological and emotional components of illness. We provide health coaching support with a strong vocational focus to help people restore their day-to-day functioning and quality of life and return to work when ready. We also support line managers to implement return-to-work plans and help them to make reasonable adjustments for their employees. Being diagnosed with cancer can be one of the most difficult situations that anyone has to face, causing both physical and mental health symptoms. More than three in four of people we work with in our Cancer Work Support Service successfully sustained or returned to work. We believe that good work is an important part of the recovery pathway and is an outcome that we work towards.”
Working with employers, insurers and individuals since 2012, Working To Wellbeing’s Cancer Support Service is a clinically-led and evidence-based work support service, designed to enable individuals to self-manage their symptoms, remain in or return to work when ready. Following a full biopsychosocial assessment with one of its specialist HCPC registered health coaches to best understand what the individual needs to help them to self-manage their symptoms and return to work, they are provided with a detailed report from one of its clinicians with recommendations for the support they believe will best support them to return to work when ready. Following the assessment, the health coach will work with the individual over a period of time to coach them in such things as sleep, pain, anxiety and fatigue management so that they can start to make changes to their life that will help them to start to recover and to manage their symptoms both in their personal and work lives.
For more information on Working To Wellbeing’s Cancer Support Service or its Line Manager Assistance Programme, visit www.working2wellbeing.com or contact 0330 0552903.