Welcome to the place where you can find information about your rights at work when you are affected by cancer.
(Emma left, Polly right)
About Polly: Hello! I am Polly and I work on the Macmillan Support line as a Work Support Adviser. I have been in this role for over two years.
Before I came to Macmillan I worked for Welfare Rights organisations and Citizen’s Advice, I have been working in the advice sector for 18 years.
How do you like to relax? I love a good book, keeping fit and good company.
My inspiration: I am inspired by the hard work and commitment of Trade Unionists from around the world who make it their life’s work to improve the lives of their members - including the fight for a living wage, health and safety at work and the promotion of educational opportunities. They teach me the importance of combining our voices to make the world better for everyone.
About Emma: Hi! My name is Emma and I’m also a Work Support Advisor for Macmillan on our Support Line.
Before working for Macmillan, I was a manager in a call centre and a Union Representative. I’ve always had a passion for helping people and so using my skills to support people who are affected by cancer is the perfect job for me.
How do you like to relax? I’m not very good at relaxing, so in my spare time I volunteer for another charity helpline and I’m a school governor. I’m also a mum to 2 kids and 2 cats and a wife to 1 husband who all keep me busy – there’s never a dull moment in our house! On the very rare occasions when the house is quiet you’ll find me trawling the internet for my ancestors, as I’ve been researching my family tree since I was 16 – I’ve gone back to the 1780s so far!
My Inspiration: My son is very much my personal inspiration. He was born very prematurely and so has had a fair few challenges in life, but he always keeps battling. Historically Marie Curie is also an inspiration. She was such a strong, intelligent, humanitarian woman. She had to fight against lack of funding, being barred within her own country of Poland from studying, then she needed to fight to be recognised for the work that she did purely because she was a woman. She was also vilified for her beliefs and her nationality. Yet her work changed modern medicine because she pioneered mobile x-ray units and her work with radium.
What does Work Support mean?
Many cancer patients and their carers are of working age and need support to continue in work and retain their jobs. We offer advice and support to people who have worries about their work life and who want to know more about their rights.
You can call us if you are worried about a dismissal (for example redundancy), you need adjustments to your job so that you can continue to work or if you need a sounding board. Perhaps you have a difficult meeting coming up?
We help people cope with their work problems, identify their next steps and help people find the right words and solutions for them.
We’ll be blogging monthly about common work issues for people affected by cancer and the ways in which we can help. We’ll be talking about various issues from month to month including: talking to your employer about your diagnosis, returning to work and reasonable adjustments, phased returns to work and more. Is there something in particular you want to know about? Let us know by commenting below.
Did you know?
The Equality Act (Disability Discrimination Act in Northern Ireland) protects Cancer patients from disability discrimination from the date of diagnosis. You are protected if you are looking for work, a worker or an employee. It makes no difference whether you are full or part-time, you are protected. Please see our resources on line or give us a call on 0808 808 0000 if you need help with your work problems. You can also email us by using this link if you prefer - Contact Us
Thanks for your time and effort on this. I’m not working at the moment as just finished chemo x radio starts next week. My work have been very supportive since my diagnosis of triple neg breast can in April this year. I will hopefully be getting back to work in the New Year and even though work have been great the prospect will be daunting. So I think this support will be really helpful when the time comes.
Big week coming up.... Back to work after a break of 18 months. Mental health breakdown & recovery over 12 month period, then WHAM . Her2 positive breast tumor discovered in routine mammogram! Operation a success, no chemo or raiography but a complete life change away from all the stress, house move, new diets etc. Living by the sea now & off to work part-time in a theatre!! Complete life change but all good! What a journey
Hi, well following successful treatment for Bowel Cancer, my employer did meet their legal obligations, but did not engage with me in a meaningful way & the external HR Company seemed more about 'protecting my rights & employers rights' rather than engaging in a proactive return to work. Yes there was a return to work plan, but this was little more than my GP & I put together in 5 minutes. It just took my employer & external HR nearly 2 months to sort out! The experience was very poor and ultimately I suggested I was amenable to a package, - which became a Settlement Agreement. I would have been content to continue working for them had they allowed me to return in greater part to my role. My point is this, it is important that employers are engaged and not just going through the legal requirements. Be sure to express what you expect & get this recorded. Remember a back to work plan is just that & like any plan should be amended to the situation and circumstances so that both Employer and Employee get best benefit.
Hi my sister has stage 4a cervix cancer she has been off work since her diagnosis in Dec 2017 gone through combined chemoradiotherapy then brachytherapy none of which was pleasant. At the m9ment they want to leave her for ten weeks the scan again to see if th8ngs hav3 changed.
last week she got a visit from her works HR who informed her they wanted to terminate her contract, as this was unexpected she was terribly upset. Does she have to accept this happening to her. ?
Hi there! I was diagnosed 3 years ago with incurable BC with secondaries in the lungs, liver, bones & ovary. I had 6 months off following diagnosis and returned 2 work full time in Dec 2015 (following a phased return). Work have bn v obliging with allowing me time off 4 appointments etc throughout my various forms of treatment. Earlier this year I had 2 start my 4th different type of chemo & following a 2 week stay in hospital with sepsis I returned 2 work but with a flexible work pattern. I've changed the type of work I now do (all sitting down) & no longer deal face 2 face with the public. However, work is not the same anymore. I previously loved my job but a combination of factors - a new line manager & a knowledge that realistically I'll never b able 2 return 2 my previous role, combined with the fact that I drop 2 1/2 pay soon r making me think that I should try 4 medical retirement. It's not what I want age 46 but I have 2 face the facts. It's bn work & my colleagues that's kept me going but now I no longer feel the love 4 it. Also we r facing severe cuts in the area I work in. So is it better 2 go now b4 I'm pushed?
I started a new job full time just before my cancer diagnosis in April this year however my new employers were aware I was undergoing tests at that time to see whether it was positive or negative . I accepted employment Having discussed this with them on this basis and to date they have supported me having gone through 2 operations ( WLE/ SNB) and Aux nodes clearance . I was off work for a period of 6 weeks then returned back on phases return after op in May , returned for 2 weeks end of June and then took 2 week annual leave as had holiday booked mid July . Beginning of August had my second op and still off work and planning returning next week which will make it 7 weeks I’ve been off .
I still do not feel % mentally and emotionally to return to work although my scar has 90% healed , still sore but sensation in upper arm is not there .. I am dreading a return to work although they have agreed a phased return to work part time hours gradually increasing over time .
My discussions with oncology does not start til 15 Oct and I don’t know whether I will cope until then . I will need to take more time off work when I have my Rads which is expected to last 3 weeks as will not be able to get to work and treatments so I’m feeling a little snd lost what to do for the best . I feel little guilty as I started a job with a new employer and have been unable to full fil that job properly and feel as if I have let them down becos of my illness . They are aware of my cancer diagnosis and as I said they are continuing to support me but st the same time have high expectations of me to perform and do my job
Really lost and unsure what to do for the best . I need to make a decision by Friday this week
Thank you. This is timely for me.
15 mos into GBM, now recurrent.
Clinical Trial MBZ
Leading Edge procedure (Gamma Knife) with Dr. Chris Duma (2)
Ajuvial Temodar 12 cycles
Optune 11 mos so far
Scheduled 9-25-18 Car"T" Immunotherapy Clinical Trial at City of Hope. Will include resection #2.
Neuro Team #2 says don't wait a week, stat resection now. Not sure which will happen.
Been rocking through this process. Working 50 hours plus commuting 4 hours LA Traffic.
Finally starting to have some symptoms and it is worrisome. Looking into what happens if you can't work. The disability thing looks like it takes forever to kick in and doesn't offer much anyway. The insurance situation looks even worse (2years before medicare kicks in). I assume I could not qualify for private coverage at any cost. Has anyone started navigating this process? Any advice? A lawyer told me I should have filed for everything the day of my initial diagnosis.
Sorry if I seam a bit disjointed.
My husband was only off work for four months with a good response to treatment when we met with his employer. This was supposed to be a catch up in a coffee shop so we were devastated when informed they wanted to end his contract and they would consider giving him relief work when able to return. They even wanted an immediate response and if he wouldn't agree would terminate anyway. They tried to make out this was for his good!
Contacted the helpline who just said speak to a lawyer so not much help there. The legal advice was that he could be terminated. Sadly he died suddenly and unexpectedly before anything happened with his work.
Hi, thank you for this timely blog.
Last September, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Treatment started with chemotherapy every three weeks at the beginning of November, following fertility treatment. I worked until January, usually two weeks out of three, having the week of chemotherapy off sick. During this period, I gave my manager a fit note that stated my hours should be adjusted as needed. Then, the chemotherapy that I was taking changed and I caught a virus at work and was admitted to hospital after 8 days in bed, not eating. and a temperature over 38 degrees. After that, I went off sick all of the time although I did work from home one week in February in order to meet a March deadline. I gave my manager sick notes from the end of January to when I returned to work at the beginning of September. and in this time, I had surgery and radiotherapy. My statutory sick pay came to an end at mid-July. Prior to returning to work, I explained to my manager that I still experience side effects from chemo. and I am still having biological therapy injections every three weeks and this is set to continue until next February. I did let her know that I will get another fit note with adjusted hours on it from my G.P. until I am able to return to my normal hours of work. We agreed that I will start with reduced hours and build up gradually.
My question is this; My post is salaried. If I was paid my full salary during my first months of chemotherapy when I needed to be off sick every third week and was providing a fit note with adjusted hours, why is it that since returning to work, my manager has asked me to keep a timesheet of the hours that I work and I will only be paid for those hours? I'm currently managing to work only half of my usual hours and the money from this will not be enough to cover my bills and outgoings. I have run out of savings as I spent more money during the bulk of treatment. I don't feel well enough to work my usual hours. Both my oncologist and my BCN have warned me to pace myself and build up my work hours gradually so that I don't fall into a boom-bust energy cycle. But I have bills to pay and financial obligations to meet. I can't help stressing about this which is ironic because during treatment i had no choice but to surrender everything.
Anyway, long comment, I know. I would just appreciate your thoughts on this as my manager tends not be transparent about our organisation's policies.
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