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7th November 2016

A survey released by cancer charity Macmillan says that one-fifth of people diagnosed with cancer face discrimination from employers or colleagues on return to work.

Pam Rogerson, HR Director for the ELAS Group, says: “No one should be discriminated against for having a disability. The laws are there and are upheld for cases where employers use disability as an excuse to terminate the employment contract.”

When an employee is diagnosed with cancer there are certain steps that employers need to take. Pam says: “A cancer diagnosis can turn a persons’ world upside down. Employers should know that cancer is considered a disability; therefore an employee who has been diagnosed with cancer is protected under the Equality Act 2010. Employers are required to make reasonable adjustments to any areas of the job which may place the employee at a disadvantage e.g. accommodating flexible working to help them cope with fatigue or allowing them to make a staggered return to work. Even if the cancer has been successfully treated and the employee is now in remission they are still protected under the Equality Act 2010 and must not be treated less favourable for any reason related to their illness.”

“The last thing your employee wants to be worrying about when they are fighting cancer is whether or not their job is safe. You should arrange a meeting with them to find out how they want to deal with everything and offer them the support that they need. Some people might not want everyone in the office to know, others might be happy with people knowing but worry about being treated differently. At this meeting you should discuss options for flexible working, time off for medical appointments and address any other concerns which they might have.”

Macmillan provides excellent advice and recommends that people tell their employers about their diagnosis. The majority of employers are aware of their obligations. For more information or specific concerns, ELAS can advise employers of the rights under the Equalities Act 2010.


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