Those who take time off during treatment but lack sick leave may risk losing their jobs.In contrast, patients who receive workplace accommodations and are able to continue working during active treatment are likely to retain employment and work more hours.(9, 10)Cancer is a condition covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008, which requires that eligible employers provide “reasonable accommodations,” defined as any modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that enables an employee with a disability to perform essential job functions.The US Department of Labor estimates that 40 percent of Americans who work for small private employers (those with fewer than 15 employees) are in the lowest 25 percent of wage earners.(11) Thus, the exclusion disproportionately affects low-income workers.
We used data from the Breast Cancer and the Workforce study, a prospective, longitudinal study of disparities in employment outcomes among women undergoing treatment for stage I–III breast cancer in New York City.The baseline survey was completed within 2 weeks of enrollment and the follow-up survey approximately 4 months after treatment completion.All study materials were translated and pilot tested.(13)The primary outcome was job retention 4 months after completion of treatment.Job retention was lowest among low-income women (57 percent), and among Chinese women (68 percent), followed by Koreans (73 percent), Latinas (78 percent), blacks (85 percent), and whites (98 percent).Women who had accommodating employers were more than twice as likely to retain their jobs.Additional research is needed to better understand the barriers employers, particularly employers of low-income workers, may face in providing accommodations.Breast cancer is a common survivable malignancy with the potential for short- and long-term employment loss and financial instability.Low-income women were less likely to have accommodating employers, however.More uniform implementation of accommodations across low and high paying jobs could reduce disparities in employment outcomes among workers with a cancer diagnosis.Women who had accommodating employers were more than twice as likely to retain their jobs as those without accommodating employers.Low-income women were less likely than higher-income women to have accommodating employers, however.