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Cancer patients ‘face discrimination on return to work’

Almost one in five people who return to work after being diagnosed with cancer faces discrimination, a charity has warned.

Almost one in five people who return to work after being diagnosed with cancer faces discrimination, a charity has warned.


About 20,000 people diagnosed with cancer every year in the UK face
discrimination in their workplace. Picture: iStock

A poll of 1,000 people found many experienced problems when they went back to work, or were made to feel guilty about having time off.

The study for Macmillan Cancer Support estimates that 20,000 people diagnosed with cancer every year in the UK will face discrimination in their workplace.

Nearly a fifth (18%) of those who returned to work faced discrimination from their employer or colleagues, while 35% reported other negative experiences, such as feeling guilty for having to take time off for medical appointments or a loss of confidence in their ability to do their job.

Some 15% went back to work before they felt ready, while 14% said they gave up work altogether or were made redundant as a result of their diagnosis.

Show support 

By 2030, Macmillan predicts the number of people with cancer of working age will reach 1.7 million in the UK.

Macmillan Cancer Support  working through cancer programme lead Liz Egan said: ‘People living with cancer should know they have the full support of their employer to return to work, if they want and are able to do so.

‘It’s appalling that, during an already difficult and often stressful time, so many employers are not offering the right support to people with cancer, leaving them with little choice but to leave.

‘We know that, for many people living with cancer, work helps them to feel more in control and maintain a sense of normality.

‘Returning to work after cancer can also be an integral part of their recovery, so it is crucial that employers show support and understanding to make this a reality.’

Appropriate policies 

The poll also found that 85% of people diagnosed with cancer who had a job felt carrying on working was important to them.

Some 60% said it helped them to maintain a sense of normality, while 45% said they enjoyed their job and 45% said they needed the money.

Macmillan is now calling on employers to make sure they have appropriate policies in place to support staff affected by cancer.

It also said they should check they are fulfilling their legal obligations to make reasonable adjustments which could enable people with cancer to stay in or return to work.

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