Employers, unaware of their legal responsibilities towards people diagnosed with cancer, are failing to make simple changes in the workplace that would enable them to stay in work, or return after treatment, according to Macmillan Cancer Support.
New research released by the charity found more than half of UK line managers (53 per cent) are unaware cancer is covered under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)i, which is superseded by the Equality Act (EA) today (1 October). This means many people are unnecessarily losing out on the information and support needed to help them stay in work.
Employers are responsible for making sure people diagnosed with cancer are not discriminated against in the workplace. However, just under half of people with cancer (47 per cent) who were working when they were diagnosed say their employer did not discuss sick pay entitlement, flexible working conditions, or workplace adjustments with them when they informed their employer they had cancer.
Macmillan launches its Working through cancer campaign today to raise awareness of cancer patients’ rights and employers’ responsibilities in the workplace.
CiarÃƒÂ¡n Devane, Chief Executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said:
‘Businesses would reap big rewards if people with cancer were offered effective back-to-work support. Helping people with cancer to stay in work doesn’t have to be difficult and it is likely to be cheaper and easier than recruiting a replacement or defending a discrimination claim. We urge employers to fulfil their obligations to employees with cancer by enshrining high quality information and support in organisational policy and making sure it is championed by HR departments and senior managers.”
Employees with cancer also do not know what their rights are and so may not request the help to which they are entitled – less than 40 per cent of people with cancer know that cancer is covered by the DDAii.
Alan, 59, from Lancashire was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2008. He said:
‘When I returned to work after treatment no one even asked if I was capable of doing the same as before I’d cancer. It was just expected that I’d do the same hours. It all caught up with me and I started to suffer extreme fatigue and went off sick again. When I felt I was being threatened with losing my job if I couldn’t do a full week, I realised it was time to find out if I had
any rights as I didn’t know, and neither did my employer.’