What can my husband ask for

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Hello, 

My husband has just been diagnosed with Kidney Cancer, with a spread to his spine and also Lung cancer. He has been off work on sick pay for approx. 8 weeks now as advised by the doctors. We are just waiting on a few more tests then I hope he will be starting on Immunotherapy. We are hoping that once he is on that he will be able to start to return to work. He is a HGV driver and has been advised that he shouldn't go straight back to doing this so my question is is his company duty bound to find him something else that he can do and what happens with regard to pay. As he is a HGV driver he's on an enhanced rate of pay which I assume he will be no longer entitled to if he's not driving that class of vehicle. If they are unable to find him something will he just have to continue on sick pay until he's able to go back to his original job. Many thanks for any advice and help.

  • Hello ,

    Thank you for contacting us here at Macmillan.  My name is Alissa and I am a Work Support Advisor on Macmillan’s National Support Line.  My team provides guidance on your rights at work if you are affected by cancer.

    I am sorry to hear about your Husband’s Cancer diagnosis. I hope you are both being well supported by his medical team and as you mention, that he can start his immunotherapy and then be well enough to then consider a return to work.

    In case you are not aware, as your Husband has a cancer diagnosis, he is considered to have a disability under the Equality Act 2010 or Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Northern Ireland). This means his employer should not discriminate against him because of his cancer. His employer is also under a duty to make reasonable adjustments to help him at work. This protection is lifelong and does not depend on an active cancer diagnosis.

    I have attached a link our booklet “Your Rights at Work’”, which explains more about the Equality Act and how he is 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.

    Your Husband can request a reasonable adjustment in the workplace, providing he can relate it back to his cancer. Your Husband’s employer has a duty to consider all reasonable adjustments and a failure to do so could suggest disability discrimination. If his 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 he is being treated less favourably as a disabled person. If you feel this applies, it would be advisable to seek further advice.

    It would be helpful for your Husband when he is ready and ahead of his return to work to discuss a return to work plan with his Manager. This would give him the opportunity to discuss reasonable adjustments that could help him to return to work, to work comfortably and safely as you mentioned, he may not be able to go straight back into his driving role. He could discuss alternative duties or roles to support him upon a return to work. I am wondering if there is a head office role or administration tasks he could maybe take on. If the role is not something he has experience in, then he could request the training to enable him. If there is not a role available, the employer is not duty bound to make one available. Driving could be the main required duty in your Husbands employment contract. If it was transpiring that he could not return to driving in time, then I would suggest contacting us further to discuss for further guidance.

    If his return to work has a reasonable adjustment as a temporary measure, which places him in a lesser paid role, he could request as a further reasonable adjustment for him to maintain his usual level of pay as the role adjustment is a temporary measure to help and support him. If this transitioned into a more permanent change in a lesser paid role then it may be unreasonable for the employer to continue to pay him the higher rate.

    Your Husband’s GP or Oncologist may be able to help him with his return to work in identifying possible reasonable adjustments. They can share this information in his fit note about the adjustments he may need.

    An occupational health assessment may be useful. They can discuss and report when an employee has been on long term sick, particularly if they are about to return to work or if they are on ‘phased return’. Advice from occupational health should help an employer understand whether any reasonable adjustments should or could be made to support someone in their return to work.

    Here is a link to the NHS website that explains their work:

    https://www.nhshealthatwork.co.uk/what-is-oh.asp

    In consideration to driving medical standards, the Health and Safety Executive set out information on their website for HGV drivers which your Husband’s employer may be required to refer to too. If your Husband is fit to drive and his medical team also agree, they could support him with this information in his fit note.

    I do hope this information has been useful to help you navigate the next steps with your Husband’s work. Please do not hesitate to contact us again if you require further support.

    Kind Regards,

    Alissa

    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