ACAS has issued new guidance to assist employers in managing
staff who have long-term or potentially life-threatening illnesses,
such as cancer, HIV and multiple sclerosis.
ACAS has published its guidance in light of projections drawn up
by Macmillan Cancer Support in 2013 which estimated that by 2020
47% of the population would be diagnosed with cancer at some stage
in their life. With employees continuing to work longer, this
issue is likely to become more prevalent for employers.
Employers need to be able to understand the law in relation to
life-threatening illnesses and also appropriately manage staff who
have these conditions.
The Equality Act 2010 (the Act) prohibits
discrimination in employment in respect of disability. The
definition of disability in the Act is "a physical or
mental impairment" which "has a substantial and
long-term adverse effect on [that person's] ability to carry
out normal day-to-day activities".
Under the Act, there are some medical conditions that are
expressly deemed to be disabilities from the point of diagnosis,
including cancer, HIV and multiple sclerosis. Employees with these
conditions are automatically protected against discrimination under
If an employee suffers from one of these three conditions, or if
their condition otherwise falls within the definition of
disability, the employer must be careful to avoid:
discrimination arising from a disability;
failing to comply with their duty to make reasonable
Tips for employers
ACAS's tips for an employer dealing with an employee who has
a potentially life-threatening condition include:
have an early conversation with the employee to find out
whether they want to share their news with colleagues –
colleagues may be more understanding about any change in working
arrangements if they know what's happening;
discuss the illness with the employee to find out whether there
are any reasonable adjustments that could assist them i.e. a change
in working hours, type of work or extra time off for medical
meet with the employee regularly to ascertain whether any
additional adjustments and/or support is required; and
ensure that employees are aware of their workplace rights
including sick pay and other benefits that they could be entitled
Everyone has sympathy for employees who are genuinely unwell. When advising employers about employees suffering from stress, various medical conditions and resultant absence, it is these words that come up again and again.
In our article published in HR Zone, we consider the introduction of the new rules on regulatory references which come into force on 7 March 2017 and the practical steps that employers must take to comply...
Most of us know the difference between being employed and being self-employed (or at least we think we do). And in everyday laymen's terms, the difference is relatively straightforward and obvious – if you are employed, you work for someone else and, if you are self-employed, you ‘work for yourself'.
This coming year looks to be another busy one with more significant employment law changes coming into force and we have highlighted some of the key changes, which range from the introduction of gender pay...
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).