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* This blog was updated 15/12/2016
Each year, almost 132,000 people diagnosed with cancer in the UK will be in employment at the time they are diagnosed.
Whether you are an employee, carer, business or health professional, we can provide support and information about work and cancer. In this blog, editor Steven explains more about your rights at work when you have cancer.
Cancer can have a big impact on work. Our website has lots of information on work and cancer. Here you can find out about the laws in place to protect against discrimination, and get tips on dealing with cancer in the workplace. We also have a booklet Your rights at work when you're affected by cancer that has more information.
Cancer and the side effects of treatment can be intense. Some people may be able to continue working through treatment. Other people may have to stop. Taking time off work can leave you feeling angry, lonely and worried about your finances.
If you have cancer and are in paid employment, or you care for someone who has cancer, your employer should try to help and support you. Where reasonable, they should make changes to let you do your job during and after your cancer treatment. Legislation protects you from being treated unfairly at work because of cancer. If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, the Equality Act 2010 protects you. The Disability Discrimination Act 1995, protects you if you live in Northern Ireland.
This legislation doesn’t just protect employees. It also protects job applicants and people who are self-employed. And it doesn’t end when your cancer treatment finishes. Your employer must not treat you less favourably for any reason related to cancer that you have had in the past.
Terry, 58, from Southport, was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2010. After treatment he was dismissed from his job and successfully sued the company for unfair dismissal and discrimination.
Discrimination happens when an employee is treated less favourably than another person because of their disability. Discrimination can affect different aspects of employment, such as:
Under these acts, employers are requested to make reasonable adjustments to make it easier for an employee with a disability to work.
Discriminatory actions fall under three categories:
Legislation also protects employees from:
Under the acts, carers are also protected from direct discrimination and harassment.
In the below video, Helen talks about finding she had bowel cancer while in employment and how she discussed this with her employer. Stewarts Law, partner Tim Spillane, also explains how the law protects people in employment with cancer from discrimination.
If you have or have had cancer, you are protected by law from unfair treatment. Our free guide can help you understand more about your rights at work, what you can do if you are being discriminated against, and what support is available. We have information to help you talk to your employer about returning to or staying in work after cancer.
If you are worried about your finances, you may want to read our helpful booklets on topics such as the benefits you may be entitled to, other financial support and managing your finances.
The Macmillan website also has information if you are self-employed, an employer, run a small business or if you are a carer.
If you are an employer, you're likely to face managing employees affected by cancer in the workplace. Managers and colleagues might need supporting too. Macmillan at Work provides a range of expert training, consultancy options, and resources to help you, including an e-newsletter, and free work and cancer toolkit.
To see what else Macmillan's cancer information team has been blogging about, please visit our blog home page! You can subscribe to receive our blogs by email or RSS too.
We're with you every step of the way
The Macmillan team is here to help. Our cancer support specialists can answer your questions, offer support, or simply listen if you need a chat. Call us free on 0808 808 00 00.
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Keep in touch Follow Macmillan’s cancer information team on Twitter @mac_cancerinfo
This is always a tricky one and it often depends on your line management. When I was first diagnosed in 2011 I had a brilliant manager but after this it all went downhill on hindsight. Neither my new manager, their managers or HR understood the sickness absence policy, in fact I knew it better than them and also the recommendations about how long I should take off after both Chemotherapy and radiotherapy. I had to get my union involved and take out a grievance that has not yet been resolved. I also had an issue with medical retirement but once I spoke to the right person it only took a couple of weeks rather than 14 months. On more than one ossassion the manager turned up with her manager and I was their alone. There had also been a change in the circumstances and so I tried to change the meeting but was not allowed to. I was trying to change the meeting because for example I was seeing the Oncologist and would be able to make an more informed decision.
I also loved my job to the point I would have continued to work on even if Occupational Therapy thought it was unsafe. This was yet again a form that management could not do properly or within a certain time frame.
hello-this is only my second visit to the site,and i did want to get some help on my work situation.
i had kidney cancer diagnosed in may 2015 and a nephrectomy in june to remove the cancer and part of the left kidney.
no treatment has been given and i am classed as clear at my 6 month scan in december 2015!!
i returned to work in january 2016 and was not allowed to go back to my normal tasks as some of it involved lifting and pushing and pulling of trollies and trailers!!
the company doctor has put a total ban on the tasks i used to do-as he does not want me to injure myself or get a RSI injury.
this has caused a hell of a problem for me and HR are telling me i might have to look for another job as i cannot do all tasks asked for.
they have not even allowed me to try the tasks as they have put a weight restriction on what i can lift.
my question is: they have not given me any reasonable adjustments to help me-and they seam hell bent on getting rid of me because i am 60 on an early contract /which pays double what a new starter would earn!!CAN THEY SACK ME ON MEDICAL GROUNDS????
THEY HAVE ALSO PUSHED ME IN THE DIRECTION OF EARLY RETIREMENT-WHICH I DONT WANT-AS I FEEL I CAN STILL DO A JOB-AND EARN TWICE AS MUCH AS MY RETIREMENT PACKAGE OFFERS.
THE COMPANY I WORK FOR IS ONE OF THE LARGEST IN THE NORTH EAST AND BRAGS A WORKFORCE OF 8000+
BUT ITS STRANGE HOW THEY DONT UNDERSTAND ANY OF THE CANCER RIGHTS.
i also asked if they had someone who can deal with cancer sufferers-they said NO !-but they might be able to get someone if i needed to talk ,
i am worried sick about my JOB and finances- i really need to talk to someone who can help me get through to these blockheads!!!
if i am in the wrong part of this site could someone please re-direct me
oh-ps one more thing-my solicitor will not help me unless i am sacked-then he will look at unfair dismissal-how sad!!
Thank you very much for your comment and responding to our blog. I'm so sorry to hear you've had so many problems at work.
On our be.macmillan part of the site, you can get sent our work and cancer toolkit. This contains information for employers and also those affected by cancer in the workplace. You can also read about it online here macmillan.org.uk/work.
We also have a free support line with a support at work team. They can give you advice and help with this sort of situation and hopefully you can be treated more fairly with some information from them. The number is free to call on 0808 808 00 00 (Mon-Fri, 9-8).
All the best,
Macmillan Community Team
I have/had rectal cancer, started March last year, had chemo and radiotherpy,surgery(August 2015) 7 sessions more chemo.My consultant would not let me back to work because of my journey, Now given all clear.My question is I am on ESA, sick cert until Mid May. Consultant said I should be Ok in a few weeks to return to work. what do i do to start the ball rolling,never by ill before so do not know about benefits or Fit notes etc. My state pension will start in July 2017???
Many thanks Jellybean
There's an Ask the Benefits Adviser online session running at the moment - please do drop by that area and ask a question.All the best to you,M.
I was made redundant in August 2016 and diagnosed October 2016 I had already paid off all my debts before diagnoses and started with an agency and was placed in a job with a view to it being permanent which was just a formality due to chemo I had to give up work and only did odd days when I had to drug myself up and took frequent toilet breaks to cry I then found out I am not entitled to anything due to being married and my husband earnings, we are not managing and despite asking for help from every source including here I am now back in debt with no way of covering my half of rent as my credit cards are near their limit or utility bills I have applied for a grant and haven't heard so I assume I'm not getting that either I just need some help until I'm back on my feet I still do the odd days of surgery even when I had a drain attached and was in pain from my surgery I am due radiotherapy and dreading the effects mentally and physically as I am still suffering from the chemo and surgery
Thank you for your comment and responding on our blog. I'm sorry to hear of the difficulties you have faced with work, I hope I can be of some help.
On the Macmillan support line we have a Work support team that can offer information and advise on your situation at work. The team can talk to you in more detail of your rights as a cancer patient and give you information on approaching your managers and HR with this matter.
The work support team can be contacted on 0808 808 00 00 Monday to Friday 9am till 6pm. I can see you mentioned English is not your first language, if you need an interpreter simply ring the number and tell the team what your first spoken language is and they will arrange for an interpreter to join the line to help.
The work support team also create regular work related blogs here on the community, on many different topics that have been raised by other members.
On our website be.macmillan we hold a range of publications relating to work. On the site you can find the Work and cancer booklet, this covers rights, coping with effects of treatment whilst working and other topics.
I hope you find this information helpful.
JessMacmillan Online Community Team
I am a cancer support worker and have seen a lady who has been told to take her sick leave as annual leave even with a sick note? Any advice or tips would be great thank you.
I have also been told to use my annual leave carried forward from last year for my staged return to work. However after discovering that a chunk of my annual leave has not been brought forward from last year I have refused to do this. I have now been told that if I cannot reach a 5 day week within 8 weeks of my return then I am to sign a new contract for reduced hours even though I have a sick note (fit note) expressing that I am only capable of a slower staged return than that. I just wonder where I would have stood had I not returned until I was in a position to return to work 5 days a week
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