Written by HEIDI WADSWORTH

It is now a known fact – reported by Macmillan UK – that in one year a HR department for a large organisation will see more cancer diagnoses than a GP. It is vital that you know what support you can offer your employees if they are faced with a cancer diagnosis. Many people decide that they want to continue to work during or after their cancer treatment and the steps you take to support them during that time will be in everyone’s best interest.

As a business owner or a line manager, it can be difficult to know how best to support an employee affected by cancer but there are a few steps that can help your employee remain at work if they choose, or return when they are ready.

It is important that you take time to communicate and understand the support they need during their absence, and when planning their return to work.  You should talk to them about any reasonable adjustments that may facilitate their return to work, such as; time off to attend appointments, time off to recover from treatment, working flexibly, a phased return-to-work plan etc. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach – every employee will be different.

Under employment legislation, cancer is classed as a disability, and employees with cancer have additional protections from the day of their diagnosis. The Equality Act 2010 states that employees with cancer are protected from discrimination in the workplace, and employers must make reasonable adjustments to make it easier for an employee with cancer to work.

There is no definitive explanation about what reasonable adjustments should include, but you will be expected to consider how practical it is to make the adjustment, how much the adjustment would benefit the employee, the cost to make the adjustment, and whether the adjustment going to disrupt the organisation. Many adjustments are free, and where there is some cost it may be possible to apply for a grant from Access to Work schemes. Remember that small changes can make a big difference to an employee enabling them to continue working. This brings benefits to both the employer and the employee.

To help employers understand their legal obligations and how to provide practical support for their employees, we will be holding a joint free webinar with HSC – leading provider of clinical, practical and emotional support for working people living with cancer in the UK on June 25th. Heidi Wadsworth, HR & Training Consultant at Reality HR, will lead the session with HSC.

Tim Warren, Commercial Director at HSC said: “It’s incredibly important that employers know how to navigate this issue properly and that they are aware of both their obligations as an employer and the rights of employees living with cancer and this is why we’ve teamed up with Reality HR to deliver this session.”

We are inviting businesses to join us on June 25th from 11am to 11.30am for the webinar, part of HSC’s series of online sessions on cancer in the workplace.

In the session we’ll be providing information for employers on: employee’s rights, making reasonable adjustments, managing time off for appointments or treatment, managing the team and facilitating the return to work.

If you are interested in joining the free webinar please visit https://www.hschealth.co.uk/webinars/ to register.