United Kingdom

Line managers not trained to support staff with cancer

November 2016


The majority of line managers lack training to support staff who have been diagnosed with cancer and other long-term medical conditions, a new poll has revealed.

The YouGov poll, commissioned by Macmillan Cancer Support surveyed over 1,000 line managers and found that 87 per cent admitted to having no training to support those living with illness.

In addition, 26 per cent believed that making reasonable adjustments to allow someone to continue working would be ‘too difficult', despite 69 per cent of line managers who had made reasonable adjustments said it had been easy to implement.

Mark Witte, Senior Healthcare Consultant at Aon Employee Benefits said: "It is becoming increasingly common for line managers having to confront the issue of a team member developing the illness and are looking to their employer for support through this most difficult of times. Indeed, the 2015 statement from Cancer Research UK said that 1 in 2 people would be affected by cancer in their lifetime - it was widely documented at the time, but the statistics around cancer in the workplace continue to make for some sobering analysis."

Liz Egan Working Through Cancer Programme Lead at Macmillan Cancer Support said: "It's vital that managers feel comfortable talking about cancer with employees who are undergoing, or have been through, treatment. And they need to listen to and understand what the employee's needs are including individual adjustments which could enable them to return to work."

Witte added: "Line managers form the front line of many employers' health & wellbeing or absence management strategies. To this end, education and access to appropriate resources becomes essential if employees are to receive the best support possible and providers have become increasingly attuned to this in recent years. Support for line managers and employees has been an established "added value" proposition from many providers for a number of years, and whilst much of the initial focus was on mental health conditions, this has now expanded into cancer-related services."



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