ESA and returning to work

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Hello, I was diagnosed with breast cancer December 2021 and went off sick in January 2022 to have a mastectomy followed by axillary node removal in March 2022, I then had chemo & radiotherapy and have just started on Verzenios, Letrozole and monthly injections, during this time when my ssp run out I was put onto esa and eventually put in the support group, i was also awarded pip, I would like to return to my job just to get some normality in my life, 16hours on minimum wage, I had an informal chat with my boss who is very understanding and said they would accommodate me and make the transition as easy as possible for me, change of working times, light duties, phased return etc, even though I have ongoing issues after surgery, chemo etc I feel it would be good for my mental health but also worried about informing esa, will they think I wasn’t that bad in the 1st place to be awarded it etc, think I’m just overthinking things, any information much appreciated, thanks 

  • Hello  

    Thank you for your question. My name is Polly and I am a work support advisor on the Macmillan support line.

    It is good to hear that your boss is being supportive and that you feel ready to get back to work. Under the Equality Act 2010 or the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (If you live in Northern Ireland) the employer must help employees with disabilities by making reasonable adjustments to help with a return to work. Cancer is a recognised disability under both these acts. The examples you mentioned in your question about making the transition back into work easier are classed as reasonable adjustments. Please have a look at our booklet “Your rights at work when you are affected by cancer“

    You make an important point about your entitlement to Employment and Support allowance (ESA). Under the permitted work rules, you can continue to receive ESA If you work under 16 hours a week and your earnings fall below £152 pw. Please see this information on the Gov UK website .This can be a complex question if you receive other benefits, so it is very important that you get further advice from our Welfare rights team about the impact of work on your benefits. They can be contacted on 0808 808 0000. The opening times are 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM Monday to Friday and between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM on Saturday and Sunday. To navigate the menus on the support line please press option 1 followed by option 2 and then option 2 again to get through to the team.


    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
  • Hello and thank you for your reply and information, as mentioned the only other benefit I get is pip, I was concerned that when I do return to work this would be taken off me, thanks again x