October is Cancer Awareness Month. It is important for employers to manage, emphasise, and understand the challenges this can have on their employees.
Cancer awareness month – how to manage staff sickness
In the UK, approximately 375,000 new cancer cases are diagnosed annually. With 1 in 2 people developing some form of cancer in their lifetime, it is highly likely that you will have to
handle this situation as an employer. When doing so, it is integral that it’s dealt with
sensitively, and you should be informed of all company policies and laws in place to protect
and support employees. A backlog of patients waiting for a diagnosis, treatment or follow-up tests for other illnesses, was commonly seen throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and the knock-on effect is still
present in 2022. This was caused by a lack of available staff to run appointments, creating a
long waiting list which meant people were being diagnosed much later than normal.
Below are three areas of advice to keep in mind when supporting your employees through a
1- Making Reasonable Adjustments
Cancer is considered a disability by law. This means employees with cancer can not be
treated less favourably than other employees who do not have cancer, otherwise, it would be
considered discrimination and open up the potential for an Employment Tribunal. To support
your employees, an employer is required to make reasonable adjustments for those with
cancer. These can include changes to your workplace or the employees’ working
arrangements to allow the staff member to remain at or return to work in a reduced capacity.
You should also note that this legal protection continues even after cancer treatment ceases,
as there are high chances of ongoing side effects.
2- Discussing the Issue
When employees come to discuss the issue with their manager, they may be feeling hesitant
about how the news will affect their working life. As a manage, it is vital that you have the
skills and knowledge to handle difficult situations effectively. Loch Associates Group’s Nip It
In the Bud course is a practical workshop that equips managers for difficult conversations
such as these. If, as a manager, you don’t feel confident in dealing with discussions such as
this, it may be appropriate to invite a HR professional to join the meeting.
3- Taking Time Off Work
Under equality laws, employers should allow staff a reasonable amount of time off to attend
hospital appointments. Alongside this, employees may qualify for sick pay if they are too ill to
work. To qualify for Statutory Sick Pay, the employee should tell their employer within a
week of the first day they are sick.
Handling difficult conversations, having the right policies in place and correctly following the law when dealing with employee illness can be challenging. Loch Associates’ highly experienced HR Consultants and Solicitors can support you and your staff throughout, and ensure your senior team are prepared to deal with these situations correctly.
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