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World Cancer Day: How the alarming rise in cancer impacts South African workplaces

02 February 2021 Momentum Corporate

Momentum Corporate’s analysis of income disability claims over the last decade shows that overall cancer claims increased by 60% and now represent 16% of all claims. As World Cancer day approaches (4 February), it serves as a marker for South African businesses to understand the lasting impact that this sharp rise has on their employees and business productivity.

This is according to Siphokazi Parirenyatwa, Disability Claims Manager at Momentum Corporate, who says the figures paint a concerning picture for employers.

“It seems that a big part of the increase can be attributed to claims by women. Claims by women increased from 16% of total claims in 2010 to 24% in 2020. The comparative figures for men were 8% in 2010 and 10% in 2020,” says Parirenyatwa.

She adds that your younger employees, the Millennial and Gen Z generations, are also at risk. “Again women employees appear to be at higher risk than their male counterparts, with 27.5% of women cancer disability claimants under 40. The comparative figure for men is 17.5%” says Parirenyatwa

Also worrying for businesses is that claims by employees in management are higher than for non-management employees when it comes to cancer, with around 18% of the total income disability claims by management due to cancer. “This can have a major impact on the smooth running and productivity of a business”, says Parirenyatwa.

“The sharp rise in cancer claims shows the increasing importance of having the appropriate mix and level of employee benefits to protect employees against potential loss of income, the high cost of treatment which is increasing exponentially and the cost of lifestyle adjustments that can accompany a cancer diagnosis,” says Parirenyatwa.

She adds that partnering with a provider that offers effective rehabilitation services to facilitate a quicker return to work after a cancer-related disability absence can improve productivity drivers.

“In addition, employers should ensure effort is injected into raising employee awareness around the need for regular health screenings for the most common cancers which can lead to early detection, and improves cancer treatment outcomes,” says Parirenyatwa.

She points to effective employee engagement/reward programmes as a practical way employers can encourage and reward healthier lifestyle choices that reduce the risk of cancer.

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