More than a third of employers do not provide financial support for staff diagnosed with a serious illness such as cancer.
Group Risk Development (Grid), the industry body for the group risk sector, is calling for more help for these employees, particularly with more people now surviving cancer, thanks to earlier diagnosis and more effective treatments.
The Grid survey found that nine per cent of UK businesses said providing financial support ‘was not their responsibility’. However the survey, published ahead of Cancer Survivors Day (June 7)showed the majority of employers did offer some support, although this was not always financial.
A total of 77 per cent of employers claim to offer some sort of practical oer emotional support. This may be funded by the employer directly rather than via an insurance policy.
- 33 per cent offer a staged or graded return to work
- 32 per cent offer emotional support such as counselling
- 27 per cent offer access to practical support such as access to a rehabilitation specialist
- 21 per cent offer access to medical specialists such as oncologists
- 18 per cent offer access to a second medical opinion service
- 16 per cent pay for treatment
- 13 per cent offer access to physiotherapy
Grid says that 50 per cent of people now surviving cancer for at least 10 years. With many of these wanting to return to the workforce this is an issue that all employers will need to address.
Grid spokesperson Katharine Moxham says: “Employers can often feel at a loss about how to best support staff who are newly diagnosed with cancer, those who are currently going through treatment, and those who have recently overcome their illness.
“However, with so many innovative group risk providers incorporating a wide range of additional support within their policies, providing access to financial support should now be the absolute baseline for employers who want to support their staff at this time, and there’s a wealth of extra help that can be tapped into.”
Grid also warns employers about relying on paying for treatment themselves. This can be both expensive, difficult to budget for, as well as potentially discriminatory if all staff are not treated equally. Providing support via an employee benefit such as group protection is actually more effective, available at a fraction of the cost, and ensures equality.
Moxham adds: “In the event that an employee is diagnosed with cancer, it’s not just the individual who is watching and waiting to see how their employer will respond, but the wider body of staff will be monitoring the situation too.
“It’s highly likely that many employers are in fact better equipped to support employees with cancer than they currently appreciate. Let’s make this year’s Cancer Survivors Day the time that all employers take an in-depth look at their group risk policies, to see if they could be better supporting their staff by utilising all the available benefits.”