More than a quarter (27%) of employees diagnosed with cancer state that they received no support to help them return to work, according to research by charity Macmillan Cancer Support.
Its survey of 1,507 individuals who were in work when diagnosed also found that 10% felt pressured to return before they were fully ready, with a further 10% believing they had to hide their symptoms, such as fatigue and sickness, while at work.
Ghazala Anjam, team leader on the work support service at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Cancer can turn someone’s life upside down, completely disrupting their work and making staying in or returning to employment difficult without the right support.
“Sadly, we get calls from people with cancer who are returning to work before they feel ready, for reasons including running out of sick leave or fear they may lose their job. We’ve also heard that some people feel a need to cover up their cancer symptoms at work, so that colleagues don’t treat them differently.”
Nearly nine in 10 (87%) respondents stated that it is important to continue working after being diagnosed, but of those who did return, 23% admit to going into work despite not feeling well enough to be there.
Between June 2016 to May 2017 and June 2017 to May 2018, Macmillan Cancer Support noted a 74% increase in the number of calls to its Work Support Service, a support line focused on work-related issues.
Anjam added: “Employers have a vital role to play in helping employees remain in or return to work after their diagnosis. It is important that they understand their legal obligations to employees with cancer under the Equality Act, that they consider what reasonable adjustments their employee may need to stay in work, and that they have appropriate policies and processes in place.”