Pressure on employers to support employees with cancer

New research from Aviva UK Health suggests that employers are still finding arranging the timely return to work of absent employees challenging, particularly when it comes to supporting employees with complex conditions such as cancer.

New plans announced under the government’s welfare reform bill will see thousands of cancer patients no longer being eligible to receive employment and support allowance after a year if a spouse or partner is working. This is likely to encourage many to return to work before they are ready, making the employer’s role even harder.  

One in five employers questioned in the research have experience of staff living with cancer. Although an overwhelming 61% of employers say their primary concern when an employee presents them with a serious condition is the health and wellbeing of the employee, the study also reveals that business priorities remain a concern:

With survival rates improving all the time, many employees are eager to return to the normality. Although just 5% of employers say that rehabilitation is not an option, nearly one in five admit that they would find it difficult to manage both the needs of the business and the needs of their employee when faced with this situation. 14% say they would be anxious about finding a way to deal with the employee without upsetting them.

Nearly a quarter of employers who have supported staff through serious illness say that the experience prompted them to review their policy to ensure that they know how to deal with future cases. This demonstrates the need for regular reviews to ensure companies are able to effectively support employees living with complex conditions such as cancer.

Dr Doug Wright at Aviva says, “There is a wealth of specialist occupational health and rehabilitation support available to help them. We help our customers back to work by drawing upon our specialist clinical knowledge and occupational health support.”

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