Workplace failing cancer patients
Cancer patients are unnecessarily losing out in the workplace, a survey has found.
Many fear disclosing their cancer to a new employer.
Patients were being affected by a "culture of ignorance" among employers, a report by charity Cancer Bacup said.
It found less than half of the 300 cancer patients questioned had been offered flexible working arrangements.
It said the government, health professionals and employers should act to help the 90,000 people of working age diagnosed with cancer annually.
The report also found that less than half of the patients surveyed had been advised by cancer doctors about the impact of treatment on their work.
“There is a culture of ignorance among employers about the true needs of employees with cancer” Joanne Rule, Cancer Bacup.
Four out of 10 said their overall working life had deteriorated.
More than a third felt their career prospects had deteriorated and a quarter feared disclosing their cancer to a new employer.
Almost a third had lost confidence in their ability to do their job.
The survey also found that 31% of cancer patients did not return to work after cancer treatment and nearly two-thirds (61%) experienced financial difficulties.
Cancer Bacup said many workers with cancer did not leave their job because of the severity of their illness, but because there is a crucial lack of practical policies, information and support.
Of those who did go back to work while they were being treated, the majority reported the side effects were difficult to manage.
Just under half had been advised by their cancer doctors about how different treatments might affect their work.
However, three quarters of those surveyed said they had received good support from their colleagues and their line managers.
Joanne Rule, chief executive of Cancer Bacup, said: "There is a culture of ignorance among employers about the true needs of employees with cancer.
"Those in charge of organisations may have good intentions but don't realise that people with cancer need more than the support of line managers and colleagues if they are to feel confident about continuing or returning to work following treatment.
"Flexible working, return to work policies and the provision of high quality information and support must be enshrined in organisational policy and championed by senior managers."
She said employers ignoring the advice would "miss out on a wealth of knowledge and skills".
She also warned that organisations must make sure they understand their obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act.
"They should be aware that soon most cancer patients are likely to be protected from discrimination from diagnosis and they should communicate this to all staff."
Source: BBC News