6 mins. read

6 ways to support an employee who is off sick with cancer

employee off sick with cancer Perci Health

Key takeaways

  • Communication is key: Keep in contact with your employee, ensuring communication is sensitive yet professional. Make sure they know they can reach out to you at any time.
  • Consider their physical, emotional and financial wellbeing: When looking at ways to support your employee, think about what will lift their spirits, help with the side-effects of treatment and/or reduce the responsibilities they have.
  • Follow through: If you offer support to your employee,  perhaps by making workplace adjustments or providing details for a workplace counsellor, make sure that you keep your word.

If an employee has been diagnosed with cancer, you might wonder what, as their employer, you can do to help. Yes, there are legal obligations you must abide by and procedures to follow in the workplace, but knowing what you can do to support an employee who is off sick with cancer is important.

It might seem more difficult to offer support from a distance when an employee has cancer but there are still plenty of ways you can help. In this guide, we outline six ways in which you can support an employee who is navigating treatment, taking into consideration the emotional, physical and financial implications that arise from a cancer diagnosis and being unable to work. 

Let them know you’re there

One of the most important things you can do for an employee with cancer is to let them know you are there for them. It isn’t always easy to know what to say when an employee receives a cancer diagnosis, but a sincere ‘Let me know how I can help’ or ‘I’m here if you want to talk’ can mean a lot.

If an employee is off sick with cancer, keep communication open and tell them that they can get in touch at any time. It may make your employee more comfortable talking about their diagnosis, how their treatment is going or how they are feeling if they know there is an open-door policy where they can approach you without the fear of judgement.

Keep them in the loop

When employees are absent from work, especially for an extended period, they can feel out of touch with their workplace and colleagues. Keep your employee up to date with what is happening at work to help them maintain a connection and ensure that they continue to feel like a valuable member of the team.

What you share with them is likely to depend on their role and the nature of the business, but can include such things as telling them about new members of staff, changes to procedures, details of product lines and colleague life updates.

When talking to the employee about work-related matters, be sure that you do so in a way that doesn’t overwhelm them or insinuate there is any pressure for them to return to work before they are ready or able to. If and when the time comes for them to return to work, you’ll need to complete a risk assessment for the employee with cancer. Ensure you communicate and collaborate with them on this so that they feel they have your full support.

Send care packages

Cancer and cancer treatment can have a significant physical and emotional toll. Those with cancer often experience pain or discomfort, fatigue and mixed emotions, which can be difficult to process.

Sending a well-thought-out care package can help bring a smile to your employee and also provide them with some useful items. For example, a fluffy blanket can keep them warm and comfortable when recovering from treatment or an unscented lip balm can help alleviate dry lips after chemotherapy.

Offer an extra pair of hands

When living with cancer, it can be tough to juggle everything in life when appointments, treatment and recovery become routine. Therefore, your employee may value some practical support with such things as household chores, meal preparation, childcare and running errands.

Depending on the relationship you have with your employee, this may be something you yourself are happy to offer. If not, there are a number of companies that provide such services on a pay-per-hour basis. Ask your employee if they would appreciate some help and if so, ask them what with so that you can tailor any support to meet their needs.

Provide information on what they may be entitled to

If an employee is off sick with cancer, they may not know what help they are entitled to or have the energy to research information. Any insight into applicable financial support, such as sick pay for employees with cancer, could be particularly useful as many individuals navigating cancer worry about money if they are unable to work.

As their employer, you can make things a little easier for them by giving them relevant information about any support they may be entitled to. For example, if you provide employees with private health insurance, let your employee know how they can use this. If their Statutory Sick Pay period is coming to an end, ensure you inform them about their options for applying for Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit.

Signpost them to relevant services and organisations

Another way that you can indirectly support an employee with cancer is by connecting them with services and organisations that can help them and their family navigate their diagnosis and treatment. This support could be for their mental health and physical wellbeing, or be practical assistance.

For instance, if you have an Employee Assistance Programme, you should provide them with details of this and ensure they know how to access health and wellbeing services such as counselling or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Or you may be aware of a local cancer charity that has in-person support groups or provides patient transport for appointments that you can put in touch with your employee.

If, as an employer, you are looking for further ways to support employees with cancer, Perci Health is here to help. We offer a pioneering virtual care clinic where those affected by cancer can receive bespoke information and guidance from cancer specialists. Our practitioners offer a broad range of support types including psychotherapy, life coaching and image advice. Perci Health supports individuals throughout all stages of cancer and helps you to show your employees that you care about them and their wellbeing while they are away from work. Want to take the first steps in providing comprehensive cancer support to your employees? Book a demo today.