Sanofi guarantees employees one year of salary and support after cancer diagnosis

Sanofi is stepping up support for employees with cancer and other critical illnesses, agreeing to secure their jobs, salaries and benefits for at least 12 months after diagnosis regardless of their location or role. 

The drugmaker has run the support program, which is called “Cancer & Work: Acting Together,” in some form for years. Sanofi’s 2019 economic, environmental and social report described (PDF) the creation of confidential cancer counseling hubs at 30 French sites and a group of 150 employees who had supported 200 employees in the 18 months since its launch. Sanofi shared (PDF) an update in its 2022 report.

Now, Sanofi is publicizing more ways in which it is supporting employees with cancer and other critical illnesses. The program is designed to provide social, emotional and financial support to all employees. 

“Many of us will face cancer one way or another in our lives. The last thing you want to be thinking about when you are diagnosed with cancer, or going through treatment, is work. And yet, half of people who receive a cancer diagnosis are frightened to tell their workplace. That is not right,” Natalie Bickford, chief people officer at Sanofi, said in a statement. 

Sanofi is promising that “employees will be able to incorporate further flexible work arrangements to better navigate cancer and work.” The program covers “access to an external psychological support in all countries 24/7 through the employee assistance program,” as well as to the network of volunteers described by Sanofi in the past. The network supports sick employees, caregivers and managers.

Work to cover “miscellaneous non-medical expenses” is underway, and “permanent employees will become eligible for an unpaid caregiver leave which allows them to carry out caregiving duties for their close family member suffering from a critical illness.” 

The updates come almost four years into the diversity, equity and inclusion plan that began under CEO Paul Hudson’s watch. With work on that plan and other aspects of Hudson’s vision for the company advancing, Sanofi is using its sponsorship of the upcoming Olympics to push the idea that it is a changed organization.