Cancer in the Workplace: HR Tip Sheet

For human resource (HR) professionals supporting employees diagnosed with cancer, in treatment and beyond.


January 09, 2020

Tips on how co-workers can support their peers, helping employees cope with dealing with cancer, how supervisors can support an employee dealing with cancer and help HR staff with solutions to support their employees dealing with cancer.

One in two men and one in three women in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Therefore, it is likely that an employee (or someone in his or her family) will be diagnosed with cancer. Then the employee will probably come to you for help.

HR professionals are critical points of contact for employees because of their expertise in a variety of employment policies and benefits.

Review Company Policies, Procedures and Benefits

Do your homework. The following checklist identifies HR/benefits information that an employee with a serious illness, like cancer, may ask about:

  • Medical and drug (prescription) coverage, including any cancer-specific programs such as a Centers of Excellence network
  • Cancer/health navigator or advocacy programs
  • Leave
  • Employee assistance program (EAP) Workplace accommodations, including flexible scheduling
  • Well-being programs, such as those aimed to help employees improve physical health, cope with stress, build resilience and manage finances
  • Community-based resources, such as the local American Cancer Society chapter or hospital-based resources

More Topics

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More in Benefits Strategy


  1. Review Company Policies, Procedures and Benefits
  2. Getting the News
  3. Giving the Employees the Resource They Need
  4. Complying with Employment Law
  5. During Cancer Treatment
  6. After Cancer Treatment