Skip to main content

Industrial Health and Safety: Cancer

Volume 486: debated on Tuesday 20 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department has taken to (a) assist cancer survivors to return to work and (b) raise awareness that cancer is covered by disability discrimination legislation. (247216)

Jobcentre Plus offers a number of employment programmes which help disabled people gain and retain employment. These programmes are open to people with a range of disabilities, including those with cancer-related conditions.

For example, customers in receipt of incapacity benefits or employment and support allowance can access Pathways to Work, which offers a series of interviews with a specialist personal adviser, a condition management programme and the possibility of financial incentives when the customer returns to work. Other customers who have a disability or health condition that affects them in the workplace can receive information and support from the disability employment adviser. The disability employment adviser can also provide access to a number of specialist programmes that can help them move into paid work, including, Access to Work, Work Preparation, Residential Training and Workstep, a programme of supported employment.

Amendments were made to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 by the Disability Discrimination Act 2005, which included provisions to extend protection from disability discrimination for people with cancer effectively from the point of diagnosis. Following these changes, the Department ran a Disability Discrimination Act awareness-raising campaign called “Adjusting for Better Business” from December 2005 to May 2006. The Department continues to provide information about the Disability Discrimination Act, including the inclusion of people with cancer within the Disability Discrimination Act definition of disability, on both the DWP and the Directgov websites.

Through the “Employ ability” programme, we are also engaging with employers to improve their understanding of disability and their attitudes towards employing disabled people.

The key aims of “Employ ability” include challenging negative assumptions about the skills and talent that disabled workers, and those with long-term health conditions, have to offer, building the confidence of employers in recruiting and retaining disabled workers. “Employ ability” activity is aimed at small to medium-sized employers and is being rolled out to Scotland, Wales and seven English regions between 24 March 2008 and 27 February 2009.