Going back to work after surgery

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Hello

I had a Lumpectomy and lymph node biopsy on 5th Dec and got a fit note for 2 weeks. I get my pathology results on 21st so won't know exactly what my treatment plan will be until then. I was thinking that l should get my fitnote extended until at least the 21st as mentally l won't feel like going back until l know my results. My employer is being very supportive and l can take sick leave until l am ready to go back. I can then have a return to work interview. 

If my treatment is radiotherapy l reckon l could go back for a couple of days and then take my Christmas leave as planned. I would then go back after Christmas and work until my radiotherapy or other treatment starts. I have an occupational health appointment on 3rd January and I will also be waiting for the results of a bone scan, which l should hopefully have by then.

So my question is should l get my sick leave extended until l have spoken with occupational health on 3rd Jan and take my leav another time? It is difficult to plan anything at the moment!

Thanks for your help.

  • Hi Crow,

    It's Megan here from Macmillan's Online Community team. Thank you for posting a question to our Work Support Advisers, I am just responding to your message to let you know that our Work Support team have seen your question and are working to respond to your question as soon as they can. We hope you will find it helpful to hear from our Work Support team and are able to access the right support.

    In the meantime, we hope you'll find lots of support from reading other posts in the Ask an Expert section and by posting in our Community groups. If you need any help using the Online Community, please don't hesiate to email community@macmillan.org.uk, 

    Best wishes, 

    Megan
    Macmillan's Online Community team

  • Hi Crow

    Sorry for the delay in replying.

    Thank you for contacting Macmillan Cancer Support. My name is Linda and I am one of the Work Support Advisers . I am sorry to hear about your Cancer diagnosis and can appreciate that it will be a worrying time for you until you receive your results on 21st December 2022.

    We are unable to agree what is best for you but if you do not feel mentally strong enough to return to work as yet it would be fine to speak to your GP to provide a further Fit Note until you do feel able to return to work. The GP can then agree how much time you will need to recover.

    Your GP or Oncologist may be able to help you with your return to work and identifying possible reasonable adjustments you may need. They can share this information on your fit note about the adjustment you may need.

    As you have a cancer diagnosis you are considered to have a disability under the Equality Act 2010 or Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Northern Ireland). This means your employer should not discriminate against you because of your cancer. Your employer is also under a duty to make reasonable adjustments to help you at work. This protection is lifelong and does not depend on an active cancer diagnosis.

    Reasonable adjustments remove or minimise disadvantages experienced by disabled people. Employers must make reasonable adjustments to ensure disabled people are not disadvantaged in the workplace. They should also make sure policies and practices do not put disabled people at a disadvantage.

    Some examples of Reasonable Adjustments could be asking for lighter duties at work to help you cope with the workload or regular rest breaks if you suffer from fatigue. I am unsure from your query whether you work full time hour or part time but you can also ask to return to work on a phased return if the contractual hour will be too much for you initially.

    I have attached a link our booklet “Your Rights at Work’”, which explains more about the Equality Act and how you are protected in the workplace.

    Reasonable adjustments remove or minimise disadvantages experienced by disabled people. Employers must make reasonable adjustments to ensure disabled people are not disadvantaged in the workplace. They should also make sure policies and practices do not put disabled people at a disadvantage.

    You can request a reasonable adjustment in the workplace, providing you can relate it back to your cancer. Your employer has a duty to consider all reasonable adjustments and a failure to do so could suggest disability discrimination. If your employer rejects a reasonable adjustment request they need to be able to demonstrate why it is “unreasonable” for them to accommodate or it could suggest that you are being treated less favourably as a disabled person. If you feel this applies, it would be advisable to seek further advice.

    I am pleased to hear that you have an Occupational Health assessment scheduled for 3rd January as they can discuss your fitness to work in more detail. They can also make recommendations in their report for reasonable adjustments for your Employer to consider to support you at work.

    Company policies and ACAS best practice

    ACAS have guidelines on sickness management, phased returns and good practice for employers, if you feel your employer is not following the ACAS guidelines than you may need some further support. Here is a link to the ACAS guideline pages for employer good practice.

    I do hope this information has been useful but please do not hesitate to contact us again if you require further support.

    Kind Regards

    Linda

    Work Support Adviser

    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