A recent study by GRiD, the group risk sector industry body, reveals that only 30% of employers provide support for serious illnesses, such as cancer, to assist employees in staying in or returning to work.

Despite serious health concerns affecting over 12% of employees across all age groups, rising to 19% among those over 55, the research highlights a significant gap in employer assistance for individuals dealing with illnesses like cancer.

When faced with a cancer diagnosis, employees often express the desire to continue working, both for financial stability and the emotional well-being derived from the workplace environment. Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, emphasizes the critical role employers play in offering the right support to staff dealing with serious illnesses, fostering an environment where individuals can choose to remain in the workplace if they wish.

The Importance of Employer Support

Cancer ranks as the primary reason for employee claims across various group risk benefits, such as employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection, and critical illness, based on GRiD’s claims data from 2016-2022. Comprehensive employer support involves offering access to oncologists, second medical opinion services, virtual GPs, mental health support, assistance with changes in physical appearance, preparation for consultations, and navigating the NHS. Employee benefits extend beyond the individual, helping employers manage life-changing illnesses within the workplace context, offering HR and legal helplines, and facilitating mediation.

While it is acknowledged that time off work may be necessary for those diagnosed with illnesses like cancer, it does not imply an inevitable end to employment. Staying or returning to work amid health challenges can be a positive experience. Employers are urged to take proactive measures to facilitate this process and address the Cancer Care Gap.

Katharine Moxham concludes, “Employers need to go out of their way to ensure they are doing everything they can to facilitate this and help to close the Cancer Care Gap.” Recognizing the significance of employer support in the face of serious illnesses, employers are urged to step up efforts to enable a smoother return to work for affected individuals.