According to research those who are diagnosed with cancer in the workplace is rising. According to Cancer Research UK each year almost 120,000 people of working age are diagnosed with cancer in the UK.
Employees who have been diagnosed with cancer will get automatic protection from disability discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. Cancer is one of the conditions listed in Schedule 1 of the Equality Act 2010 meaning that an individual does not need to satisfy the statutory test for disability under section 6 of the Equality Act 2010.
With cancer given the types and effects can vary so much from person to person it is critical that an employer obtains medical advice to assist in determining what support the employee may need. These needs may also change from time to time as treatment progresses so regular reviews are recommended.
The employer of an employee with cancer has a duty like with other disabilities to take reasonable steps to avoid any substantial disadvantage that employee may suffer compared to non-disabled people as a result of the application of policies, criterion or practices (PCP’s) including things like workplace sickness policies. Reasonable adjustments will depend on the nature of the case but may includes light duties or alternative work, flexible working, home working, extra breaks to cope with fatigue or time off to attend medical appointments.
Employers should also ensure that they do not harass an employee with cancer or discriminate against the employee by treating them unfavourably because of something arising in consequence of their disability and the employer cannot show that the treatment is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. This would be contrary to section 26 of the Equality Act 2010 and section 15 of the Equality Act 2010.
Macmillan cancer has produced a series of resources for employees who face this diagnosis and are unsure how to broach the subject at work as well as rights at work. It contains information on how treatment might impact on their work as well as resources for the self-employed and employees alike. You can find out more information direct from Macmillan Cancer here.