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Rise in cancer patients facing discrimination at work

There has been a rise in the number of people living with cancer experiencing discrimination at work – despite the introduction of the Equality Act, according to Macmillan Cancer Support.

New research shows almost four in ten people (37%) who return to work after cancer treatment say they experience some kind of discrimination from their employer or colleagues – compared to just under a quarter (23%) in 20102.

The YouGov survey of UK adults who returned to work after cancer treatment found that around one in ten felt harassed to the point they felt they could not stay in their job. One in eight said their employer failed to make reasonable changes to enable them to do their job.

Patients also report being denied time off for medical appointments, passed over for promotion or feeling abused by their employer or colleagues (for example by being given unfair workloads).

Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said:

“Employers are risking prosecution by flouting their legal responsibility to protect people living with cancer from unfair treatment and stigma at work.

“As our population grows and ages, and the retirement age rises, cancer will become an increasingly common issue for employees and their managers. It’s vital they are equipped to help people with cancer stay in work. It isn’t difficult and it is likely to be cheaper and easier than recruiting a replacement or defending a discrimination claim.”