Being diagnosed with cancer is an extremely stressful and worrying time for an employee and their family. They will not only be worrying about their health but also how their diagnosis may impact their work-life and career, and of course their ability to pay their monthly bills.
As an employer, it is important to know that when an employee is diagnosed with cancer, they will be considered “disabled” under the Equality Act 2010 and therefore protected against discrimination. I would like to think that every employer would be compassionate in a situation like this, but it’s always important to seek professional HR help and advice when looking at such a sensitive situation like this after diagnosis and throughout their journey of treatment.
Cancer and the side effects of treatment can vary from person to person. Some employees may be able to continue working, whilst others will have to stop working for a period of time as their treatment may be more aggressive.
An employee with a cancer diagnosis should be given time off to attend hospital and treatment appointments. If your employee is unable to work, they will usually be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay, however your contract and sickness policy may also allow for additional Company Sick Pay. There may also be other benefits that the employee is entitled to should they exhaust their SSP entitlement and still be unable to work.
You can help and support employees in a number of different ways, including making adjustments to their working hours, the work they are able to do, providing time off to attend appointments if required and staying in regular contact with them whilst they are way from the workplace so they still feel part of the team, are just some examples.
Employers should also ensure the employee is aware of any company benefits that may assist them such as a company Employer Assistance Programme (EAP), private health insurance, an income protection or critical care scheme or a life insurance scheme.