During our working lifetime cancer will, almost certainly, touch us all; be it ourselves (we hope not) or a loved one (although again we hope not). But on a positive note, more and more of those affected will be able to continue working or be able to return to work after treatment. All the time the reality of full recovery is increasing.
“Employees returning to work after recovering from cancer are facing rising levels of discrimination, with one in-10 feeling so harassed they are thinking of leaving their job entirely”; reports CIPD.
“Ciarán Devane, chief executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said the findings clearly revealed employers needed a better ‘understanding of cancer and how the effects of treatment may impact on people returning to work’”.
Paul, see the example in the article quoted, would most probably have been successful in pursuing his claim for unfair dismissal if he had had legal expenses support (from an add-on to household insurance for example). One chemist working for British Sugar (in Warrington as I recollect), “won” a substantial six figure sum as compensation for disability discrimination. It is an area where there are no top limits to the compensation that can be awarded. So Paul’s experience should give employers no room at all for complacency. With cancer the employee is protected from the moment of diagnosis.
The answer, for employers, is a fair procedure fairly executed. You don’t have to have a specific one set up in advance but you do need to follow a number of careful steps. Such a procedure may take some time (and money) but is far less expensive than any serious Tribunal claim is ever likely to be. Furthermore, the outcome from following a good procedure could easily be, and should be, a “win” for both parties.
If you have employees with cancer you make like to talk to us before they talk to their advisers.