Employers' Experience on Involvement in Sickness Absence/Return to Work Support for Employees with Cancer in Small Enterprises

C. Tiedtke*, A. De Rijk, A. Van den Broeck, L. Godderis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Purpose Return to work (RTW) is important for employees who have survived cancer, yet it is challenging for employers. Small enterprises (< 100 employees) might have limited resources to facilitate RTW of cancer survivors. The purpose of this article is to examine how such employers engage in the support of RTW and to uncover their needs. Methods Eleven owners and one HR manager representing 12 small enterprises (various sectors) were interviewed regarding their experience with RTW of employees surviving cancer. We conducted a thematic analysis with aspects of Grounded Theory. Results The characteristics of being a small enterprise (i.e. informal practical arrangements, working as a family, working with limited resources and people) related to four concerns experienced by these employers (concerns about the employer's enterprise; the employee's cancer and recovery; RTW and work adjustments; and about communication). In line with these concerns, employers need information on rights and obligations, RTW arrangements and communication skills during RTW guidance. Conclusions In small enterprises, employers have generally close relationships with their employees, which means that support is gladly provided when employees are diagnosed with cancer. They do however have limited financial means to facilitate RTW and workplace adjustments. They therefore perceive long-term sickness and RTW as a major financial risk for the company.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)635-645
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Occupational Rehabilitation
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020


  • cancer and work
  • concerns and needs
  • employer perspective
  • management
  • qualitative research
  • return
  • return to work
  • sickness absence
  • small enterprises
  • survivors
  • Qualitative research
  • Small enterprises
  • Cancer and work
  • Concerns and needs
  • Sickness absence
  • Employer perspective
  • Return to work


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