Blogs and Articles

Blogs and articles written for various organisations about managing work and cancer. We have organised these according to whether you are: someone who has/has had cancer; an HR professional or a policy maker about managing cancer in the workplace; a line manager; a carer, colleague or supporter of someone with cancer. Choose from the options below:


You can also filter articles by adding a search term below:

Work, Cancer and Caring: What to do?

Date posted: July 23, 2018

A diagnosis of cancer has a profound impact on the person diagnosed and it also affects their family, friends and colleagues. The emotional and psychological toll on the person diagnosed is well documented but we want to draw attention to the impact of a cancer diagnosis on the person who is a carer and who is working.

Mary McPhail discusses here  the impact of caring and provides a few key messages.

Lieve Wierinck MEP discusses ‘Transforming Breast Cancer Together’ with Barbara Wilson

Date posted:

Lieve Wierinck MEP is leading an exciting new initiative in which we are delighted to be participating with the aim of transforming breast cancer care in the EU.  This interview with Lieve is part of the ‘String of Pearls’, a series of initiatives aimed at improving services for women in Europe with breast cancer and advanced breast cancer. The MEPS and organisations working on this issued a ‘Call for Change’ in May this year.

You can read more about Lieve and about the initiative here

Barbara Wilson interview in HRD Connect – Working with Cancer

Date posted: July 19, 2018

Barbara Wilson was recently interviewed by HRD Connect, a publication for Senior HR leaders, about her experience of a cancer diagnosis in the workplac​e.  She also​ provides useful ​and important ​advice for employers and employees on how to support a ​colleague returning to work ​after a cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Read the full interview here

Rights at work for employees with cancer: a guide to what you need to know

Date posted: April 9, 2018

The Equality Act 2010 protects employees with cancer from being treated unfairly at work. This piece of legislation applies in England, Scotland and Wales. In Northern Ireland those with cancer are protected by the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA). If you have cancer, the law considers you to be disabled and this legal protection applies even if you no longer need treatment or you move to another employer. Employment legislation also protects job applicants and people who are self-employed.

Too often line managers, and in some cases even HR professionals, are unfamiliar with the legislation protecting employees affected by cancer from discrimination in the workplace. How does this manifest itself? A 2016 survey commissioned by Macmillan reported that 35% of employees surveyed reported negative experiences at work and 18% reported discrimination. It is clear that some employers still have a long way to go, not only in making themselves familiar with the legislation but also in acting within the letter and the spirit of the law.

Read the full article here

Written for Macmillan Cancer Support in April 2018

What is ‘Chemo brain’ – and how can you support an employee who is affected by it?

Date posted: December 7, 2017

Chemo brain refers to the cognitive changes that people with cancer may experience before, during and after cancer treatment. These changes may include having trouble with mental tasks related to attention span, thinking, and short-term memory. Many people describe this as a mental fog. The condition is common in cancer patients and survivors, and sometimes it continues for quite a while after treatment.

Chemo brain is quite a common condition, but of course that’s no consolation to people affected by it. In a busy work environment, even the simplest tasks can seem difficult to accomplish and get right. Making what seem to be silly, unforced, mistakes quickly undermines an employee’s confidence – and naturally, it can sometimes affect a manager’s confidence in their employee too. This in turn can affect how quickly and effectively your employee returns to work.

So, as an employer, how can you help an employee experiencing this condition?

Read the full article here

Written for Macmillan Cancer Support in December 2017

When a colleague has cancer it can impact the whole team. Here are some ways to support them throughout the process

Date posted: July 7, 2017

Finding out a colleague has cancer, particularly if you work very closely with them, can be a big shock. Often they are our friends as well as colleagues and the organisation’s focus is very much on supporting the affected employee. This is as it should be, but the impact on the wider team shouldn’t be underestimated. Team members are likely to experience a range of different emotions, which may depend on the stage of their colleague’s cancer treatment and how closely they work with them.  These include sadness, concern, anxiety, uncertainty, and confusion.

Download the full article here

Written by Maggie Newton, Working with Cancer Associate

 

The importance of good communication when supporting an employee with cancer

Date posted: June 28, 2017

Talking about cancer in the workplace isn’t always easy. It can be frightening, awkward to discuss, and very personal. Some people find it easy to talk about their cancer but others are more private. Factors like gender, age or cultural differences can also make a conversation more difficult. For example, some men may not want to talk about their testicular cancer to a female boss or HR colleague. Or some women may find it awkward discussing the fitting of a breast implant or coping with hot flushes with a male colleague or manager. Cancer treatment is often difficult and the side effects can be exhausting, unpredictable, and long lasting.

Read the full article here

Written for Macmillan Cancer Support, in June 2017

 

 

Top tips on how to support a colleague during and after cancer treatment

Date posted: March 22, 2017

Cancer is having a huge impact within the workplace and this will continue and increase for the foreseeable future. Although long-term absence[1] (lasting over four weeks) only accounts for 5% of all absence episodes, it typically accounts for 30–40% of total working time lost. In 2013 it was estimated to cost the UK £4bn per annum. Cancer represents a significant cause of long-term absence for manual workers (29%) and among non-manual employees is the second most frequently reported cause of long-term absence. And with the number of cancer survivors expected to increase from 2.5 million to 4 million by 2030, being equipped to support staff affected by cancer will become even more important.

Line managers play a crucial role in…

Read full article here

Written for Macmillan Cancer Support, March 2017

Working together towards recovery

Date posted: March 9, 2017

For International Women’s Day Barbara was interviewed by the Daily Telegraph for their special supplement on Diversity in the Workplace.

Read Daily Telegraph article here (PDF)

Managing the performance of people affected by cancer

Date posted: December 6, 2016

Here are a couple of case studies to get you thinking: can you spot what the employers should have done differently in the two case studies below?

Case 1:

A friend of mine, relatively new in a senior role, was diagnosed with cancer. Keen to keep on working during her chemo and with no real knowledge of what chemo was like, she committed to going into work for a couple of days a week. This worked well for a couple of cycles of chemotherapy but it soon became clear to her that, given the impact of her chemotherapy was cumulative, she wouldn’t be able to work the days to which she had committed. Her employer’s response was to start performance managing her for not fulfilling her commitments and not meeting her targets.

Case 2:

A client of mine returned to work following cancer treatment to find that her boss had requested a 360-degree appraisal of her in her absence. She returned to a meeting in her first week back with her boss and an HR representative, where she was confronted by anonymous and highly-critical comments from her boss and colleagues.

If you don’t see anything wrong in the above cases, please do two things:

1. For Case 1, have a careful read of…

Read full article here

Written for Macmillan Cancer Support, November 2016