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Supporting Employees with Cancer

Each year, almost 120,000 people of working age are diagnosed with cancer in the UK, and with survival rates improving and people retiring later, this figure is set to rise. This is why Macmillan has developed workplace training, guidance and resources to support HR and Line Managers with managing cancer in the workplace.

For people with cancer, staying in or returning to work can be hugely positive. However, it can be difficult to know how to support someone with cancer, as there are a number of challenges they may face.

In the workplace, reasonable adjustments are often needed to help deal with the side effects of cancer and its treatment. Fatigue, pain and depression are some of the common side effects, so making reasonable adjustments such as flexible working and time off to attend medical appointments can make a big difference to someone affected by cancer. However it is important to remember that each person may require different support.

Research carried out by Macmillan reveals that less than half of line managers know that cancer is classed as a disability under the Equality Act or Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). The legislation requires employers to make reasonable adjustments if the location, working arrangements or a lack of extra support (auxiliary aids) puts someone with cancer at a substantial disadvantage.

So how can businesses equip HR professionals and line managers to provide the best individual support for staff they manage, while adhering to organisational policies?

Often one of the biggest concerns can be starting the initial conversation with the individual who has been diagnosed with cancer. Initiating conversations and keeping communication channels open are key steps in gaining an understanding of the individual needs and support required in the work place. It’s also important to discuss arrangements for keeping in touch with your employee before their absence, and to maintain appropriate contact with your employee during periods of sick leave.

Contact Us

Macmillan at Work


T: 020 7840 4725

Products and Services

Training or consultancy can help organisations prepare their staff to manage the impact of long term conditions.

Macmillan at Work is designed to help workplaces support employees with a cancer diagnosis, or those caring for someone with cancer.

To find out about the expert training, guidance and resources Macmillan provides, visit

You can also email the team at or call 020 7840 4725.