Hung back to work

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  • Hi I need some advice about returning back to work 
  • Hi ,

    Thanks for contacting us on the Macmillan Support Line. My name is Emma and I am an advisor on the Work Support team. My team advise on how to support with your rights at work. I am not sure what advice you need around returning to work and so I’ve included in this message some general information around returning to work after a cancer diagnosis and/or treatment.

    You may not know that as long as your employer is aware of your cancer diagnosis, you are protected by a law called the Equality Act 2010 if you live in England, Scotland or Wales (Disability Discrimination Act 1995 in Northern Ireland) . The law says that due to your cancer diagnosis you are protected from any discrimination carried out by your employer. You can also ask for changes or adaptations at work to how you carry out work or for physical aids at work if you need them (defined as Reasonable Adjustments under both Acts) . You might find our booklet “Your Rights At Work” useful to read if you’ve not already seen it. We also have a booklet for your employer called “Managing Cancer In The Workplace” which gives advice on how they can support your return to work if you feel it would be useful to pass on. If you have any questions around this, please do come back to us.

    It’s important to note that failure to make reasonable adjustments could be classed as disability discrimination and so there are strong duties on your employer to make the changes you need. You’ve not mentioned in your message what your role is, and so a few general examples of reasonable adjustments could include are a phased return to work, where you gradually build up the hours and duties you complete. Or if your role involves a lot of standing and this is something you’re struggling with, having a stool or an anti-fatigue mat. Or maybe you are suffering from fatigue and feel you would benefit from reducing your targets for a while. There is not an exhaustive list of what a reasonable adjustment could be as this can differ between your needs and the resources of your employer however the onus is on support you to overcome any substantial difficulties you face at work due to your cancer.

    If your employer has an Occupational Health provider, you could ask to be referred to them for advice around what might be suitable reasonable adjustments for your role. Or you could ask your GP for their advice and to write a fit note that details what adjustments you need. The Equality Advisory Support Service also has a template letter to help you put your request for reasonable adjustments in writing to your employer.

    Feeling apprehensive about returning to work is a common feeling amongst cancer patients. If you feel this way, you can contact our Cancer Information and Support team to chat through how you’re feeling. They are available either via email, on webchat or over the phone on 0808 808 0000 option 1, then 1 from 8am to 8pm every day.

    I’m hoping this may cover some of the questions have about returning to work that you have, however if you do want further advice you are more than welcome to contact us again. On the Work Support team we are available either via email, on webchat or over the phone on 0808 808 0000 option 1, then 2, then 3 from 8am to 6pm every weekday. Or you can reply underneath this message and we’ll get back to you.

    Kind regards,

    Work Support Advisor
    Remember you can also speak with the Macmillan Support Line team of experts. Phone free on 0808 808 0000 (7 days a week, 8am-8pm) or by email