International Hospitals & Healthcare

The need for employers to support employees with cancer

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The Health Insurance Group, which provides insurance broking services for businesses and individuals throughout the world along with specialist health and wellbeing advice and solutions, has commented on how employers can support the mental health of employees with cancer, with specific guidance from its international specialist for employees overseas.

This is particularly pertinent given the context of it being World Cancer Day on 4 February 2019. The Health Insurance Group is urging employers to help alleviate the stress of cancer for individuals and those around them. First off, it said that employers should understand comorbidity – the existence of one medical condition alongside another – and be aware that there may be multiple issues that will need support and ensure this is in place for employees when they need it the most.

In addition, The Health Insurance Group highlighted the need for access to emotional support. It said that employers should offer an employee assistance programme where confidential advice – and potentially counselling – can be accessed by employees and family members. Another important type of support is being aware of physical health and considering providing flexible working such as reduced hours or enabling employees to work from home where possible to foster greater rest periods. When it comes to employees working abroad, efforts should be made by employers to encourage a healthy lifestyle targeted to a specific culture and country.

“Employers need to be mindful of their international workforce and the cultures they are working in, as some lifestyle factors have been proven to increase the risk of some cancers. Some employees overseas may be working in a culture where people ‘work to live’ and work/life balance is favourable. Others may be in a high-octane environment, where resorting to alcohol, cigarettes and takeaways is an established coping mechanism for working long hours. It’s important therefore that the message to encourage a healthy lifestyle and provide support is consistent across the globe,” said Sarah Dennis, Head of International for The Health Insurance Group.