Cancer in the workplace and what it means for HR

A cancer diagnosis leads to a ripple effect across an entire organisation, presenting particular challenges in terms of people management. Check4Cancer has commissioned a report to help HR Managers get to grips with the real impact that cancer can have on businesses across the UK.

"Rates of cancer continue to rise. Figures released by Cancer Research UK show a 12% increase in the rate of cancer since the mid-90s; more than 352,000 people are now diagnosed with cancer in the UK each year, compared with more than 253,000 two decades ago. Of the people diagnosed with cancer in the UK each year more than 100,000 are of working age, and estimates suggest that in total over 750,000 people of working age are now living with a cancer diagnosis. According to Cancer Research UK, 46% of these cancers are diagnosed at an advanced stage, when they are far harder to treat successfully. Health insurance company Unum has also reported that cancer is the biggest cause of long-term sickness claims, accounting for almost a third in 2015.

The news is not all bad. Survival rates are increasing, too, with 50% of patients now surviving 10 years after a cancer diagnosis. This doesn’t necessarily make things easier for the employer, however; as cancer becomes more like a chronic illness, it requires longer-term attention and treatment and appropriate support from employers as part of their duty of care. More than a third of the entire UK workforce will also be over 50 by 2020 (Office for National Statistics), which means a growing proportion of employees affected by cancer. So, do employers have policies and processes in place to both demonstrate the necessary support for their employees and minimise disruption and costs?

How employers choose to tackle this issue is likely to prove critical to corporate health in years to come. The report follows up on our own research undertaken in 2015, and explores issues of how employers are responding to the cancer epidemic, the plans being made, changes being introduced and views on the readiness of their organisation. As well as new insights into UK employers, there is expert advice around some of the major related HR issues, such as managing effective cancer awareness and communications with staff, and building a case to senior management for investing in cancer initiatives. " 

Prof Gordon Wishart 132 132 1

Professor Gordon Wishart
Chief Medical Officer Check4Cancer

You can freely access the Cancer in the workplace report here.