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ACAS Publish Guidance to Support Employers Who Manage Staff Who Suffer From a Long-Term Illness or Life Threatening Condition

It is estimated that by 2020 almost one in two people (47%) will get cancer at some point in their lives but some employers may be ill equipped to deal with staff who have the condition and unfamiliar with the law.

Under the Equality Act 2010 as soon as anyone is diagnosed as having cancer, HIV or multiple sclerosis then they have the same protection as someone with a disability (paragraph 6(1), Schedule 1 of the Equality Act 2010) and are automatically protected against discrimination.

The Act imposes a duty on employers to make reasonable adjustments to help disabled job applicants, employees and former employees in certain circumstances.
Whether an adjustment is reasonable will depend on whether the adjustment would have ameliorated the disabled person's disadvantage, the cost of the adjustment in the light of the employer's financial resources, and the disruption that the adjustment would have had on the employer's activities.

Acas have launched a new guide to help employers manage staff who have a potentially life threatening or long term illness such as cancer, HIV or multiple sclerosis.
The guidance offers advice to bosses on how best to provide support to team members and employees who have a potentially life threatening or long term illness as well as staying within the law.

Acas' top tips for managers on handling potentially life threatening illnesses at work include:

•    Have an early conversation with staff members who have progressive illnesses very early on and establish whether or not they wish to share their news with team members. Colleagues may be more understanding about any change in work arrangements if they know what's happening;
•    Get an understanding of the illness and the effects it will have on their staff and what kind of reasonable adjustments that can help them. This could mean a change in working hours, type of work or extra time off for medical appointments depending on the circumstances;
•    Regular chats can help to reveal if any additional adjustments will be needed and extra support that's available at work; and
•    Make sure employees are aware of their workplace rights including sick pay and other benefits they could be entitled to.


This bulletin is for general guidance purposes only and should not be used for any other purpose.

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