I remember it distinctly. It was just another rather mundane day at the office when I left a meeting to take an urgent phone call. One of our employees had recently become a dad but now – just a few weeks later – a routine blood test had revealed that his wife had acute myeloid leukaemia. She would need to spend many weeks in hospital in isolation and would be unable to care for their new baby. Shocked and floundering about how to handle this, the line manager asked if it would be ok to give our employee a period of compassionate leave. I said yes, and the CEO agreed, saying of course we’d pay him.
I’m sure many of us get calls like this, so why are we so often unaware of the working carers that we employ? Well, I think there are a number of factors that prevent us from knowing this. They include:
There are estimated to be 1.5 million carers in the workforce, of whom about 500,000 are estimated to be working full-time or part-time and caring for someone with cancer. Moreover, as the population in general ages and lives longer more and more of us will be required to provide caring support of some kind to elderly parents and relatives. This will significantly impact on our working lives.
So I ask you the following questions: how many carers do you employ, and how many take advantage of the support services you provide? If you don’t know the answers, what will you do?
Here are a few ideas:
For more information about supporting carers for someone with cancer visit the Macmillan website.
Do you have a question about work and cancer? Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Barbara Wilson is Founder of Working with Cancer. For more information, visit workingwithcancer.co.uk or email me at Barbara.email@example.com
I heard of a great example yesterday. A woman caring for her husband was told by her workplace that they were goi to pay for a cleaner to go into their home for two hours a week! What a fabulous practical offer! And a relatively inexpensive way to demonstrate positive regard, gaining more respect and desire from the employee to stay in work as well as having quality time with her husband!
Whatever cancer throws your way, we’re right there with you.
We’re here to provide physical, financial and emotional support.
© Macmillan Cancer Support 2020
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