Am I being discriminated against?

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I told my manager about my cancer diagnosis the day after I received it. Their attitude towards me changed dramatically since then.

My job was very much in danger as this unfortunately happened towards the end of my probation period. They made it very difficult for me and apparently a complaint had been made about me attending my cancer related appointments during work hours. I've worked extra to make up the difference which they still keep insisting on.

Only yesterday have I discovered the disability leave under the Equality Act 2010. As far as I can tell from my research, it entitles me to attend these appointments. Can anyone help me understand if I'm reading the information right please? 

I don't want to speak to my manager and rock the boat as things only settled down when a previous hysterocopy showed no cancer. Improvements in their attitude towards me was noticeable from that point. Telling them that I'm going to be off sick for surgery is causing me anxiety because I'm so afraid it will make waves again. 

Any advice would be appreciated 

  • Hello Capylovesjam,

    I'm Eliza from the Community team at Macmillan, thank you for posting a question in Ask an Expert. I'm just posting on behalf of our Work Support team to let you know that they will respond to your question as soon as possible. Our team are quite busy at the moment. 

    In the meantime please remember we also have lots of information, support and guidance on Macmillan's website about work. You can also reach our Work Support team and other teams on Macmillan's Support Line on 0808 808 00 00Our work support advisers are available Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.

    As I mentioned, our Work Support team will respond as soon as they can. If you need any further help from the Community team on accessing support through Macmillan's Online Community, you can contact us over email to

    Best wishes,

    Macmillan Community Team

  • Hello Capylovesjam

    Thank you for contacting us here at Macmillan.  My name is Linda and I am a Work Support Advisor on Macmillan’s National Support Line.  My team provides guidance on your rights at work when you are affected by cancer. I am sorry to hear about your concerns at work which seems to be causing you some anxiety.


    Employers can play such an important role in ensuring people with cancer are supported in the workplace and there is some specific legislation that relates to this.  The Equality Act 2010 or (Disability Discrimination Act 1995 if you live in Northern Ireland), defines cancer automatically as a disability, which means that anyone with a cancer diagnosis is considered to be disabled for the purposes of It.  Under this legislation, providing your employer is aware of your diagnosis, your employer should not discriminate against you because of the cancer, or for reasons relating to it. Your employer also has a duty to make reasonable adjustments to help you at work. This protection is lifelong and doesn’t depend on an active cancer diagnosis.

    Our publication Your Rights at Work, explains more about the Equality Act and how you are protected in the workplace. 


    Time off for medical Appointments:

    I would advise that you ask your Employer what the company policy is regarding taking time off to attend a medical appointment. They cannot refuse to allow you to attend any required medical appointments. However, whether this time is paid or unpaid will depend on their policy. You can ask to use annual leave hours to attend the appointment meaning that it will be paid ,  take the time off as unpaid or ask to make the time up on another day.

    ACAS have further information on disability related absences here

    Should you feel the employer is treating you less favourably since you notified them of your cancer diagnosis, this can be classed as discrimination of a disabled person, and you could look into raising a grievance about this It would be advisable to keep a timeline of events in case you need to take this matter further.

    You also mention that a complaint was made against you for attending medical appointments. An employer has a duty to ensure a disabled employee is not being harassed or victimised at work for something connected to or arising from their disability. Such behaviour is discrimination, and the employer can be held liable. It would be advisable for you to familiarise yourself with the Grievance policy in your workplace as you may wish to raise a grievance should such behaviour continue. If you are in a union, then it would be helpful to contact them for support.

    Types of disability discrimination

    If living in England, Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland people are protected from:


    Vicarious liability

    An employer can be held responsible for how their employees behave during their employment. They can be liable for direct disability discrimination or harassment experienced from other employees because the person has cancer.

     I do hope this has answered your concerns but please do not hesitate to get back in touch if you have any further questions or if you feel the situation has not improved.


    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