UK Cancer Patients Facing Work Discrimination


According to new research commissioned by Macmillan Cancer Support, cancer patients in the United Kingdom experience discrimination at work on account of their disease.

As many as four in 10 patients returning to work claim to be treated unfairly, which is up by 50 percent over the last three years. As many as one in 10 experienced so much of it that they felt they had no choice but to leave their jobs.

Unfair treatment and discrimination

Examples of such unfair treatment and discrimination include not being granted flexibility of time off in order to make medical appointments; being passed over for promotion opportunities; being given excessive or unfair workloads; and 'feeling abused' by their co-workers.

This mistreatment occurs despite the so-called Equality Act, which should provide employees with protection from this kind of harassment.

Reasonable accommodations not provided

Another one in eight claimed that their employer didn't even bother to carry out any reasonable changes that would have enabled them to continue doing their jobs.

The sample size was small with only 168 adults, but the findings are still alarming. Thirty-seven percent of those who returned to work following cancer treatment responded that they experienced some form of discrimination from either their employer or colleagues or both. Macmillan Cancer Support Chief executive Ciarán Devane commented:

Employers are risking prosecution by flouting their legal responsibility to protect people living with cancer from unfair treatment and stigma at work … As our population grows and ages, and the retirement age rises, cancer will become an increasingly common issue for employees and their managers. It's vital they are equipped to help people with cancer stay in work. It isn't difficult and it is likely to be cheaper and easier than recruiting a replacement or defending a discrimination claim.

Source: Macmillan

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