Empowering the cancer patient to remain indispensable at work

Campaigning for Cancer has announced its new Cancer@Work Programme which is aimed at helping cancer patients and their employers to understand their rights and obligations throughout the cancer journey.

The Cancer@Work Programme was launched at an event hosted by Werksmans Attorneys in Sandton, and will help employees diagnosed with cancer and their supervisors and managers to proactively manage the challenges faced in the workplace when dealing with a cancer diagnosis.

Campaigning for Cancer has collaborated with key stakeholders to develop a written Cancer@Work Programme, the first of its kind in South Africa. It offers employer and employee workshops, step-by-step guides on handling cancer in the workplace and access to resources with information about legal rights relating to employment. It also has step-by-step guides explaining the journey of a cancer patient for employees, co-workers and the employers to encourage open dialogue amongst colleagues.

“As part of Campaigning for Cancer’s aim to lobby for the promotion and protection of the rights of patients and those affected by cancer, the larger Cancer@Work Programme will guide a company in establishing and implementing a cancer policy in the workplace and help us to gather important data regarding how cancer is viewed in South African workplaces,” said Campaigning for Cancer CEO, Lauren Pretorius.

“The first step in helping South African employers and employees exercise the rights afforded to them by our country’s laws and constitution, is by providing them with access to information that is reliable and easy to understand,’ commented Bradley Workman-Davies, Director in the Employment Practice Area at Werksmans Attorneys and co-author of the Cancer@Work Programme.

In 2000, in the United States of America, it was estimated that lost productivity, valued with the human capital approach, was estimated to be $115.8 billion. If cancer mortality rates remain constant at those 2000 levels, this will increase to $147.6 billion by 2020. These statistics do not reflect the full  impact that a cancer diagnosis can have on the economy and are considered  “conservative” estimates.

“The burden of cancer in South Africa is incredibly high and we don’t know the size of the adverse impact on the workplace in South Africa, or how the burden of disease is affecting the workplace and the exact costs associated with this,” says Pretorius.

Recognising that business plays a role in the larger cancer treatment process is an important step in supporting cancer care. Campaigning for Cancer’s Cancer@Work Company Partnership Programme is your companion in this effort. It guides employers through the entire cancer care journey, pointing out where input, action, and understanding can help both the employee and the employer, when dealing with a cancer patient.

   One in six South African men and one in eight South African women will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime.

This translates into approximately 80 000 deaths per year in South Africa. Cancer is the great equaliser of our time: It knows no boundaries of class, race, gender, sex, age or employment status. It can strike anyone at any time… and it does!

Adapted from a www.campaign4cancer.co.za article.

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