Maggie’s: people use holidays for cancer appointments rather then tell bosses

Forty per cent of people with cancer in the UK have used annual leave for their appointments rather than telling their employer it is for cancer treatment, according to a new survey from cancer support charity, Maggie’s.
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The survey, of 100 people with cancer, was conducted by OnePoll on behalf of the charity, which has a centre in the grounds of the Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy, to help understand how people with cancer can be better supported in the workplace - by employers and their colleagues.

It also found that almost a quarter (22%) of people only told their colleagues about their diagnosis once it became apparent due to treatment. The main reasons for not telling colleagues were not wanting to be treated differently by colleagues (20%), worried it might distract colleagues and affect team productivity (20%) and wanting to keep medical condition private (20%). Ten per cent of those surveyed did not feel supported by their employers when they told them about their diagnosis.

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Dame Laura Lee, chief executive of Maggie’s said: “Telling anyone you have cancer can be a really scary and overwhelming thing to do but telling your employers and colleagues adds another level of stress. People coming into our centres tell us that they worry about job safety, being treated differently and knowing what they can or should say about taking time off for treatment and appointments, and these are all really valid worries that our staff can help with.

Kirkcaldy's Maggie's Centre (Pic: Fife Free Press)Kirkcaldy's Maggie's Centre (Pic: Fife Free Press)
Kirkcaldy's Maggie's Centre (Pic: Fife Free Press)

“Everyone diagnosed with cancer should be aware that they have employment rights but also know that also they don’t have to tell colleagues until they’re ready, if at all.

“Our professional staff can help you figure out when the time is right to discuss your cancer, and what to say and to who. They can also advise on your rights, returning to work and financial support when you’re out of work.”

Maggie’s professional staff include psychologists, cancer support specialists and benefits advisors, all of whom offer free advice on everything from treatment choices, stress, anxiety and talking to friends, family and employers. Centres also run ‘cancer in the workplace’ courses to help employers understand the needs of employees.

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