Working hours

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I was diagnosed with breast cancer in Nov 2020. For the following 6 months I was having active treatment and was off work until August 2021. I work in a private day nursery where shift patterns are in place but I have always been on an 8 - 5 shift, although my contract says that I should work between the nursery opening hours of 7.30 and 6 pm.

Last week I was put on a 9-6 shift and I commented on the works whatsapp group saying 'can't say I'm happy about doing the 9-6 shift'.

I received an email from the manager at the sister nursery saying that as a result of my comment 'to prevent further issues a set shift is no longer avaialble'!

Am I within my rights under the equality act to get my 8-5 shift back? and if so, are my company bound to allow me to do the 8 - 5 shift? It says that I can ask for 'reasonable adjustments' to my working conditions. I would say that it is reasonable as I have been doing these shifts for the last 3 or more years! 

Thank you in anticipation,


  • Hi Julie

    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 regarding your shift pattern.

    If your Employment Contract states that you are employed on a shift pattern between the hours of 7.30 am – 6pm then they have the right to vary your shift to suit the business. I do appreciate that this is frustrating for you as you have typically had a set shift working 8am – 5pm.

    You do have lifelong protection under the Equality Act 2010 from Disability Discrimination this is not dependant on whether you are having treatment for cancer or being in remission. An Employer may not discriminate against you or treat you less favourably than any other employee due to your cancer diagnosis.

    Reasonable adjustments remove or minimise disadvantages experienced by disabled people. Employers must make reasonable adjustments to ensure that 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 as a reasonable adjustment to return to your 8am – 5pm shift providing you can relate it back to your cancer. Your GP may be able to support you with this by issuing a Fit Note to say they deem you fit to work provided this reasonable adjustment is in place .


    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. You do not mention if you are a member of a Trade Union but if you are, they may be able to support you further with this concern.


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


    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