To be told that you have cancer must be devastating; to then lose your job as a consequence is a further burden that a surprising number of cancer sufferers have to bear.
Research by Macmillan Cancer Support and YouGov shows that some 20,000 people who are diagnosed with cancer each year face discrimination at work from their employer or colleagues.
Following their diagnosis, a surprisingly large proportion (14%) of those employees either give up work altogether or are made redundant. These findings are based on a survey of 1000 people living with cancer who were employed at the time of diagnosis.
Participants were asked whether they had encountered a variety of factors when they returned to work, including: feeling guilty for having to take time off for appointments; being pressured into returning to work before they felt ready to return; and having their wages cut.
Pointing out that the number of people with cancer of working age is predicted to reach 1.7 million by 2030, Macmillan Cancer Support warns that employers must offer better support to staff who are diagnosed with the disease.
The vast majority (85%) of people in work when they are diagnosed with cancer say that continuing work is important to them. Most say that they want to maintain a sense of normality (60%), with others saying they need the money (54%).
Liz Egan of Macmillan Cancer Support said: “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.”
Information about cancer at work, for both employers and employees, is available on the Macmillan website at www.macmillan.org.uk.