Employers play a critical role in supporting employees facing a cancer diagnosis, both during treatment and after recovery.

In the UK, around 360,000 people are diagnosed with cancer every year (Source: Macmillan Cancer Support). Many of these people will have to consider how this may affect them at work and speak to their employer to establish a plan of action.

Supporting employees with cancer can not only improve their wellbeing and help create a sense of normality in their life, but it can also benefit the overall productivity and morale of the workplace.

Here are some ways employers can support employees dealing with cancer:


Talk openly with your employee to understand their needs, keep them in the loop, and maintain good communication with them, whether they are still actively working or on sick leave. Clear communication and support can help keep employees with cancer engaged with your business, productive when working and benefits the wider workplace culture.

Respect their privacy

Be understanding and empathetic, and always respect the privacy of employees with cancer. This can include refraining from discussing the employee’s health with others without their consent. It is important to establish privacy terms with your employee to understand communication moving forward.

Be accommodating

Consider reasonable adjustments that can be put in place to support employees with cancer, such as flexible work arrangements, time off for treatment and recovery, and modifications to the work environment. This can include allowing remote work, flexible scheduling, or providing a private space for rest or treatment.

Check your guidelines

Ensure compliance with guidelines and policies by regularly reviewing and updating them to provide support for employees with cancer. This includes provisions for sickness absence, long-term conditions, and time off work. As cancer is legally defined as a disability, employers should have reasonable adjustments in place, such as modifications to the workplace or working arrangements, to enable employees with cancer to continue working if they are able. Failure to do so can be classed as discrimination in the workplace.

Provide an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)

Offer an Employee Assistance Programme to support employees during this difficult time. This can help employees cope with the emotional and psychological effects of cancer. Our EAP provides a wide range of support, featuring a 24/7, employee helpline which is available all year round to provide immediate emotional support, structured counselling, a wellbeing app, live chat, management support and more.

Employee Assistance Programme

Remember that employees who care for someone with cancer may also need support in the workplace. Being a caregiver can be an unexpected and challenging role, emotionally and physically. The above-mentioned advice can also be used to support employees who are caring for someone with cancer.

By implementing these steps, employers can create a more supportive and inclusive work environment for employees with cancer and ultimately benefit the entire organisation.