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Managing and supporting employees with terminal Illness

As the population ages, works longer, and disease treatments continue to improve, it is highly likely that more people will be working with a terminal illness. Marie Curie and the What Works Centre for Wellbeing share their research and resources to help employers understand how to effectively support members of their staff who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

working age people with children are more likely than any other group to fall below the poverty line t the end of life

Research by Marie Curie shows that working people who are diagnosed with a terminal illness face a range of difficulties. In addition to the distress of dealing with a terminal illness, individual and household financial wellbeing can be significantly impacted by:

  • declining health
  • barriers to accessing welfare support
  • challenges to maintain paid employment in a flexible manner.

Recent research by the What Works Centre for Wellbeing found that fewer than half of employers have policies for employees with terminal illness.

Terminal Illness definition

The UK’s leading end of life charity Marie Curie defines Terminal Illness as ‘an illness or condition which cannot be cured and is likely to lead to someone's death’.

Workplaces can play a key role in supporting employees at this time as they:

  • are where people spend a large proportion of their time and are an important part of the ‘community’ of employees
  • can provide stability and social networks at a time that is deeply uncertain and often isolating
  • often have resources to provide support through the emotional and practical challenges of a terminal illness diagnosis

1 in 4 terminally ill people of working age spend the last year of their lives in poverty

Without this support in the workplace, employees who have a terminal diagnosis can experience poorer outcomes in all areas of their life, including mental health and financial wellbeing. Marie Curie research shows that working age people at the end of life are twice as likely to be in poverty than those of pension age.

Case studies

Additional resources

The Work and terminal illness ( page includes:

There is also advice from:

Highlighted pages

Workforce and HR support