Macmillan Cancer has recorded a spike in the number of calls from cancer patients regarding work-related problems.

The Telegraph reports that the figures have risen by 74% to 1,711 in the year to May 2018.

Under the 2010 Equality Act, individuals are considered to have a disability if they have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative affect on their ability to do normal daily activities. Most people with cancer are automatically regarded as disabled and qualify for protection at work.

The research found that one in five employees with cancer felt they had  been discriminated against. Some claimed that they were demoted from their positions, while four per cent said that they lost their job because of their cancer diagnosis.

 “We know how important it is to many people to work during cancer treatment, or return to employment afterwards, and this is entirely possible with the right support.”

Liz Egan of Macmillan

Why do manager consciously (or unconsciously) discriminate against employees?

  • 8 per cent said they are concerned that someone could use their illness as an excuse to not work as hard, while some expressed fears that their employees would not stay in their job for a long period of time.
  • 12 per cent thought a diagnosis would cause awkwardness in the office.
  • 12 per cent thought that this would cause their colleagues to express resentment.

What can employers do to support employees with cancer?

  • Support staff who need time off to attend medical appointments.
  • Keep in contact with the employee so they don’t feel out of touch.
  • Support them with their return-to-work options.
  • Give them access to an occupational health adviser – specialists with knowledge and awareness of the employee’s role.
  • Make reasonable adjustments such as a change to someone’s duties, flexible working, regular work breaks and working from home.

You can read more about disability discrimination at work here.