Communicating with your employee
As an employer, you may already have experience with ill or injured employees. While this experience is helpful, a cancer diagnosis is quite different. An employee with breast cancer may face many physical and emotional challenges. They may find these challenges difficult to talk about and may not know how to approach the subject with you.
I returned to work one day after finishing radiotherapy. Now, looking back, I wish I had taken some time off to rest and relax.
When speaking to your employee about their diagnosis, it can help to:
- find a private place to talk
- tell them that the conversation is confidential
- let your employee take the lead in the conversation
- ask how they are feeling
- ask how much time off they require
- discuss if and how they want to communicate their diagnosis with their team and other colleagues.
Information for your employee
As an employer, it’s helpful to provide your employee with information about:
- leave/time off
- possible adjustments to their work duties
- appropriate policies on flexible working arrangements
- their rights to be protected against discrimination
- support services the organisation may offer e.g. employee assistance, coaching or mentor programs.
What to do if things don't go to plan
During this difficult time, your employee may not be receptive to your suggestions or support. There may be misunderstandings in communication, or your employee may not achieve the outcome that they were hoping for.
If there is an issue, you can suggest they access further support via:
- a human resources representative
- an employee assistance program (EAP)
- family and/or friends
- colleagues and/or mentors
- BCNA and other cancer and health organisations.
For further information, the following resources are available:
- For information about breast cancer and treatments, visit the Understanding breast cancer section.
- For a simple explanation of breast cancer, download the plain English version of the About breast cancer booklet.
- Download BCNA's Tips for managers of people diagnosed with breast cancer to learn how to support your employee.
- Download BCNA's Work rights and responsibilities – for employers to become familiar with your rights and responsibilities as an employer of a person with a serious illness.
- Call BCNA’s Helpline on 1800 500 258 for information, support and referral.