Employers ‘at a loss’ about how best to support staff diagnosed with cancer

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One in 10 UK organisations (9%) do not consider it their responsibility to offer financial, practical or emotional support to employees who have been diagnosed with a serious illness such as cancer.

This is according to research undertaken by the group risk insurance body Group Risk Development (GRiD), which found one third (34%) of employers do not offer financial support to staff who have received a serious diagnosis.

However, businesses generally were more open to offering practical or emotional support to staff who were unwell, with 77% claiming they did so, despite feeling it was not their responsibility.

A staged or graded return to work (offered by 33%) and provision of emotional support services such as counselling (32%) were the most popular forms of support offered, but access to practical support such as a rehabilitation specialist (27%) and access to medical specialists (21%) were also fairly common elements of employers’ support programmes.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, said: “Employers can often feel at a loss about how to best support staff who are newly diagnosed with cancer, those who are currently going through treatment, and those who have recently overcome their illness. It can also be difficult to know exactly what is the right support to offer as the situation changes for the employee.

“However, with so many innovative group risk providers incorporating a wide range of additional support within their policies, providing access to financial support should now be the absolute baseline for employers who want to support their staff at this time, and there’s a wealth of extra help that can be tapped into.”

She said that, with Cancer Survivors Day coming up on 7 June, employers should look at their group risk policies to ensure they were utilising all of the benefits available.

“In the event that an employee is diagnosed with cancer, it’s not just the individual who is watching and waiting to see how their employer will respond, but the wider body of staff will be monitoring the situation too. Many employers want to do the right thing by their staff, but from an employee relations points of view, it’s important they’re also aware that their actions are being judged by more than just the individual concerned,” said Moxham.

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