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Disability Discrimination

Cancer in the workplaceA recent CIPD survey, conducted in conjunction with the Working with Cancer group and Cancerbackup investigated how businesses are managing those people affected by cancer. 90,000 people are newly diagnosed with cancer each year and the findings show that three-quarters of employers have no formal policy in place for managing employees affected by cancer.

As part of the DDA, employers must not victimise or discriminate against people who are suffering from cancer – including recovered cancer sufferers. Employers are also expected to make reasonable adjustments to support employees. This includes allowing reasonable time off for primary carers, and legal responsibility for ensuring that discrimination does not occur in the workplace.

How to avoid discrimination

There are various ways to avoid discrimination, from the recruitment process, down to redundancy or dismissal. For example, declaring a candidate unsuitable for a job due to their previously having had cancer can be seen as discrimination and can lead to a lot of damage to your organisation.

Adapting the office environment

Looking after those employees affected by cancer, by being flexible – like allowing leave for treatment – can make a big difference to the employee's sense of wellbeing in the work environment. Adjusting the office, providing extra computer equipment or even staff support are also ways to avoid inadvertently discriminating against an employee who suffers from cancer, MIS or HIV.

Recruitment and accountability

Oversights on the part of the employer could be interpreted as discrimination – it stands to reason therefore, that employers must be able to justify themselves and show due process when it comes to recruitment. Avoid discrimination by including daily tasks required for the job on a job description, adjusting and modifying equipment, or providing support to workers while in employment.

Importance of support

importance of supportIn terms of support to employees, statistics show significant room for improvement. At present only one-third of businesses provide counselling services or other emotional or practical support for employees affected by cancer. Ceridian’s employee assistance programme LifeWorks can help the employee who is suffering from cancer by providing counselling. LifeWorks can also help colleagues and immediate family by providing practical advice and emotional support. Contact us today for more advice on these support services.

  • 1st April 2007
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