Working To Wellbeing: Only 47% of line managers think they can offer support to employees with cancer in the workplace

According to the latest research commissioned by Working To Wellbeing, only 23% of line managers in the UK would proactively explain to colleagues with a long-term health condition, such as cancer, their rights at work according to the Equality Act.  

Related topics:  Working To Wellbeing,  New Research
Tabitha Lambie | Editor, Protection Reporter
27th October 2023
Working To Wellbeing
"At Working To Wellbeing we focus on the physical, cognitive, psychological and emotional components of illness. "
- Dr Julie Denning, Managing Director and Chartered Health Psychologist at Working To Wellbeing

As defined by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the 2010 Equality Act considers a progressive condition, such as cancer, as a disability – even if the individual can carry out normal day-to-day tasks. Consequently, employers in the UK have a responsibility to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate the needs of a person with a disability; these adjustments must be tailored to the individual with their specific role in mind.

In the UK, 72% of line managers understand what these reasonable adjustments mean when it comes to supporting colleagues with cancers, but only 47% feel they would be able to offer and support them with ‘some reasonable adjustments’ in the workplace. This fell to 40% among line managers under the age of 35.

Meanwhile, Working To Wellbeing found that just 36% of workers who have/had cancer were satisfied with the reasonable adjustments they’ve received to manage their health. This was more prominent among women (33%) compared to men (39%) and was even lower among those aged 55+ (25%).

Only 29% were satisfied with the physical workplace modifications they’d been offered, 42% with the opportunity to work flexibly and 28% with the coaching offered. Similarly, only 34% were satisfied with the job redesign offered.

Commenting on these findings, Dr Julie Denning, Managing Director and Chartered Health Psychologist at Working To Wellbeing, has said: 

“The growing incidence of cancer in the workforce is a risk that employers cannot afford to ignore; or they will no doubt be faced with reduced productivity, low retention, poor morale and increased costs. As well as making business sense to take the front foot, employers have a legal obligation via the Equality Act 2010 to support employees with disabilities, including those diagnosed with cancer, ensuring reasonable adjustments are made for them at work. 

“Being diagnosed with cancer can be one of the most difficult situations that anyone has to face, causing both physical and mental health symptoms. More than three in four of the people we work with in our Cancer Work Support Service successfully sustained or returned to work.

“We believe that good work is an important part of the recovery pathway and is an outcome that we work towards.” 

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