Women With Breast Cancer Who Work For Accommodating Employers More Likely To Retain Jobs After Treatment
Author: Victoria Blinder, Carolyn Eberle, Sujata Patil, Francesca M. Gany, Cathy J. Bradley
Breast cancer affects one in eight women across the United States, and low-income minority survivors of breast cancer are at increased risk of job loss, compared to higher-income white survivors. Employer accommodations, such as schedule flexibility, have been associated with job retention in higher-income whites, but the role of such accommodations in job retention among low-income minorities is not well understood. We conducted a longitudinal study of 267 employed women ages 18–64 who were undergoing treatment for early-stage breast cancer and spoke English, Chinese, Korean, or Spanish. We categorized patients by income level and by race/ethnicity. The category with the lowest job retention after treatment was low-income women (57 percent). Job retention varied widely by race/ethnicity, ranging from 68 percent among Chinese women to 98 percent among non-Latina whites. 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. More uniform implementation of accommodations across low- and high-paying jobs could reduce disparities in employment outcomes among workers with a cancer diagnosis. Additional research is needed to better understand the barriers that employers, particularly those with low-income workers, may face in providing accommodations.