Cancer is a condition we’re all familiar with. Whether you’ve suffered yourself, or know somebody who has - it’s affected most of our lives in one way or another.
In the UK, someone is diagnosed with cancer every two minutes. That’s a staggering amount of people. At the same time more people are surviving, with 50% of people living for 10 or more years following diagnosis. With more people being diagnosed and survival rates improving, employers need to be prepared to manage more people with cancer in the workplace.
But are workplaces prepared for this? And what can employers do to support employees following cancer diagnosis or treatment?
Here are three ways Group Income Protection can help employers support their employees:
- Someone to talk to
People with cancer are at greater risk of developing a mental health condition, such as depression and anxiety. Yet research suggests that many don’t get the support they need.
Most Income Protection policies include access to an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), with 24/7 access to expert counsellors. This can be a lifeline for employees struggling with their mental health. Having someone to talk to, outside of friends and family, can make a real difference for an employee who’s struggling to cope.
Our EAP, EmployeeCare, also includes line manager support, providing best-practice advice on how to manage an employee who’s just been diagnosed or returning to work following treatment.
- An expert second opinion
We often get a second opinion before making a big purchase, so why not after a serious diagnosis, or before surgery? A good Income Protection policy will include access to a Second Medical Opinion service. This involves an expert consultant reviewing an employee’s medical files and providing a second opinion on their diagnosis and treatment.
In 2018, over 50% of cancer referrals to our second medical opinion service resulted in a change in treatment. It’s a stark reminder that our doctors can often get it wrong, despite their best intentions.
Our Second Medical Opinion service makes sure the employee is receiving the right treatment for the right condition, avoiding unnecessary surgery or procedures. Even if the employee has received the right diagnosis and treatment, the second opinion provides reassurance that they’re on the right path to recovery.
- Rehabilitation and communication
A cancer diagnosis can turn a person’s world upside down. It can be easy for employees to retreat from the workplace and take an extended period of absence. Sometimes the employee is willing and able to return, but has mental barriers preventing them from returning to the workplace. That’s where early intervention can make a huge difference. Our Early Intervention Service allows trained nurses and rehabilitation experts to intervene at the earliest stages of absence. Any issues or barriers preventing a return to work can be addressed quickly, and in 80% of cases, the employee makes a return to work before a claim is needed.
Of course, this completely depends on the employee’s condition, and Income Protection is there to support employees financially if they’re unable to work due to their condition. If an employee does need to claim, Income Protection will both support them during their absence, and also provide expert return to work support once they’ve recovered.
Rehabilitation consultants work with the employee, the employer and the treating doctors to put together a medically-endorsed return-to-work. At the same time, they facilitate conversation between the employer and the employee, which is both easy for employers to get wrong and such an important factor in ensuring a successful return to work.
There are many more ways Income Protection can help employees suffering with cancer - the obvious one being the financial benefit. According to MacMillian, 83% of people are £570 a month worse off as a result of a cancer diagnosis. Income protection typically provides 75% of the employee’s salary while they’re unable to work.
When you look at the support available with Income Protection and the financial security it provides, you might wonder how someone could cope without it. For employees suffering with cancer, or those with other serious conditions, Income Protection can be the difference between a comfortable recovery and serious financial hardship. As cancer affects more and more of us, Income Protection could be the tool employers need to support their employees through this increasingly familiar illness.
 Best Doctors MI. Canada Life 2018
 Across all conditions. Canada Life EIS Statistics 2018
 Page 4, https://www.macmillan.org.uk/_images/Cancers-Hidden-Price-Tag-report-England_tcm9-270862.pdf