Only a third of employers offer support for serious illness, such as cancer, to help people stay in or return to work

Press release 31 January 2024.

World Cancer Day: 4 February 2024

Just thirty per cent of employers offer support for serious illnesses, such as cancer, to help people stay in or return to work, according to new research conducted during January 2024 by GRiD, the industry body for the group risk sector. This is despite serious ill-health, such as cancer, being a concern for over one in ten (12%) employees of all ages, rising to 19% of over 55s.

In many cases, when an employee is diagnosed with cancer, they want to remain in work if they are physically and mentally able.. This is not only for financial reasons but also because of the emotional wellbeing that being in the workplace provides. Therefore, on a number of levels, it is important that employers provide the right support for staff should they be diagnosed with a serious illness such as cancer.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, said: “When someone is diagnosed with cancer it can feel like the rug has been pulled from beneath their feet. When the time is right, being in work and all the positives that entails, such as providing stability, satisfaction, stimulation, and a sense of self-worth, are hugely important for the individual. Employers need to step up and ensure they are enabling people with cancer to remain in the workplace if they wish to do so.”

What does ‘good’ workplace support for cancer look like?

Cancer is the main reason employers claim for their staff across all group risk benefits (employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness) according to GRiD’s claims data from 2016-2022 (most recent).

To provide comprehensive support, these and other employee benefits  may offer employees access to oncologists, second medical opinion services, virtual GPs, mental health support (such as talking therapies), support with changes in physical appearance, help in preparing for consultations and navigating the NHS, as well providing assistance when treatment and NHS support is over.

GRiD is keen to highlight that employee benefits can also support the employer in managing life-changing illnesses within the context of the workplace, learning how to communicate best with employees in this situation and developing a flexible pathway for helping staff remain in or return to work. This may include HR and legal helplines as well as help with mediation.

Katharine Moxham concluded: “It is inevitable that time off work will almost certainly be necessary for those staff who are diagnosed with a disease such as cancer but it is certainly not inevitable that these people will call time on their job altogether. Remaining in or returning to work is often a very positive experience when many other elements of an employee’s life are in flux. Employers need to go out of their way to ensure they are doing everything they can to facilitate this and help to close the Cancer Care Gap.”

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The research was undertaken by Opinium from 9-16 January 2024 among 500 HR decision-makers at UK businesses and from 9-12 January 2024 among 1,210 workers.

For further information please contact:

Sharon Mason 
SMUK Marketing and PR 
Mob: 07747 611773
Land: 01252 843350


Katharine Moxham
Spokesperson for GRiD
Mob: 07887 512508

Notes for editors 

About GRiD

Group Risk Development (GRiD) is the industry body for the group risk sector, promoting the value to UK businesses of providing financial protection for their staff, enhancing their well-being and improving employee engagement. Our membership includes insurers, reinsurers, intermediaries and those operating in (or with other interests in) the UK group risk market. Together this forms a collective wealth of experience built over many years. Under the chairmanship of Colin Fitzgerald  (Distribution Director – Group Protection, L&G Retail) GRiD aims to promote group risk through a collective voice to Government, policymakers, stakeholders and employers.

GRiD works with government departments and regulators involved in legislation and regulation affecting group risk benefits, and with other organisations involved in the benefits and financial protection arenas. GRiD also seeks to enhance the industry’s standing by encouraging best practice and by participating in industry-wide initiatives such as the professional qualification in group risk managed jointly with the Chartered Insurance Institute.

GRiD’s media activity aims to generate a wider awareness and understanding of group risk products and their benefits for employers and employees.

GRiD’s dedicated spokesperson, Katharine Moxham, provides expert media comment on a full range of group risk issues.

Follow Katharine Moxham on Twitter @KMoxham