Research finds unwillingness among employers to provide staff cancer screening

Press Releases  |     |   Helm Godfrey

The results of a questionnaire answered by more than 100 organisations, ranging in size from over 10,000 staff to less than 100, found cancer had a significant impact in the workplace, with half of respondents highlighting that it presented numerous challenges.

Yet 22% of respondent organisations said they would not contemplate contributing towards the cost of screening employees for cancer - in spite of the high cost of the illness in terms of work days lost, sickness pay, the expense of employing temporary staff and replacing those unable to return to work. Most respondents, who were primarily senior HR managers, said they were ‘unsure’ whether their organisation would pay for such screening.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development estimates the average cost of recruitment is £4,333 per person and the average time needed to recruit someone, depending on the role, is six to 16 weeks.

Helm Godfrey’s study found that in the vast majority of employers – more than 80% – cancer screening was not offered to staff, despite most companies having had staff who have developed some form of the disease. It also revealed that three quarters of organisations had no formal policy for managing cancer in the workplace.

John Deacon, Director and Head of Employee Benefits for Helm Godfrey, said:

“Our research has found a surprising lack of willingness among companies to consider offering cancer screening and a general level of unpreparedness in the workplace for dealing with what is one of the UK’s biggest killers.

“Introducing screening does carry a cost and this may put off some employers. However, the costs of not doing so can arguably be greater and companies could save a lot of time and effort by helping identify cancer among staff early. This could aid treatment and might also mean employers are more likely to retain the skills and experience of staff.

“Furthermore, by offering subsidised screening, companies may be able to reduce corporate medical and life insurance premiums as well as potentially mitigate the impact of cancer in terms of staff absence or treatment costs.”

Helm Godfrey has been at the forefront of providing innovative employee benefits packages and, in partnership with cancer screening specialist Screen4Life, has introduced workplace-based skin cancer screening. It will soon be adding a more comprehensive screening service covering some of the most common cancers.

Adds Deacon:

“In the current economic climate, with budgets under considerable strain, I can understand that some businesses may be unwillingness to spend money on non-core services. But cancer screening can be offered very cost-effectively, particularly if the expense is shared between employee and employer. It would also be money well spent in terms of contributing to the health and wellbeing of workforces.”

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • 9% of respondents said dealing with cancer in the workplace was ‘very challenging’ and 41% described it as ‘quite challenging’.
  • Private medical insurance is available in more than half of companies, but only for ‘some’ employees.28% of respondents said cancer screening, where available as an employee benefit, had not reduced private medical insurance costs.


Notes to editors:

* The think tank Policy Exchange calculated that the losses suffered by businesses in 2008 due to people who survived cancer being unable to return to paid work amounted to £5.3bn.

For more information contact:

Dan Judge

Bulletin PR

Direct: 020 7378 3475

Mobile: 07904 778661


About Helm Godfrey:

Helm Godfrey is one of the UK’s largest independently owned employee benefits and wealth management consultancies and one of the very few also able to offer advisory services to both employers and their employees.

The company first established its reputation as an independent financial adviser business. It has won major awards for the quality of its service and is one of the UK’s top 100 IFA firms.

The acquisition of the employee benefits business of Truestone Asset Management in June 2011 extended its expertise and reach within the employee benefits space. Its acclaimed iChoose platform enables it to deliver sophisticated employee benefits solutions to companies, helping improve employee communications and understanding. iChoose has also enabled employers to offer new and innovative benefits to staff, supporting client retention.

Helm Godfrey’s head office is in the heart of the City of London at the centre of the UK’s financial hub. The firm has offices throughout the country.

Helm Godfrey is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

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