Supporting the Return to Work After Cancer in Romania: Exploring Employers’ Perspectives
Purpose Evidence shows that employers play a key role in facilitating the return to work of employees with cancer, yet little is known about the employers’ experiences in settings where no policies or regulations are available to guide this process. Against this background, we aimed (1) to understand how employers experience and manage the process of having employees with cancer and (2) to explore their reflections regarding their role in returning to work. Methods Twenty employers from various types of organisations and sectors were interviewed. Inductive thematic analysis was performed using NVivo 11. Results Employers experienced having employees with cancer as a process with three distinct phases reflected in three emerging themes: disclosure of the diagnosis and absence from work; returning to work; post-returning to work. A fourth theme emphasizes the employers’ reflections on how they conceive their own role. In the absence of a normative framework for dealing with employees with cancer, employers used commonsensical rules of thumb and immediate solutions based on ad-hoc decisions and were often compelled to innovate. They offered accommodations only if requested by the employee after returning to work. The return to work process was neither planned nor phased. Conclusion Employers need information and guidelines for effectively assisting employees with cancer. Better channels of communication and collaboration with health professionals are essential for more adequate support for the long-term consequences of cancer. A detailed return to work policy is required to tackle the inconsistencies in the support offered and this policy must also rethink how diagnosis disclosure takes place in Romanian organisations.
KeywordsReturn to work Cancer Employer Qualitative research
Project financed by Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu & Hasso Plattner Foundation research grants LBUS-IRG-2019-05. The study is also supported by a grant from the Romanian National Authority for Scientific Research, CNCS – UEFISCDI, PN-II-RU-TE-2014–4-0478.
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