I do receive support from my employer but....

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It was suggested I make contact to this page regarding my post. My partner was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, stage 4. Initially we were told he had 18 months but a second opinion informed us he may have longer than that. First rounds of chemo were awful with such terrible side effects, he pretty much gave up. He is now on 80 percent chemo with infusion over 4 hours instead of 2. He is so tired and I am working full time. I try not to let him do a lot at home because of how tired he gets. He doesn't know really how exhausted I am. He knows I get tired (I have arthritis  which makes me really tired and so sore on normal days). I feel I am meeting myself coming back. I find myself almost snapping at him for nothing. He is the most laid back, caring guy and I feel so guilty. He does absolutely nothing wrong and gives me no reason to feel like this. I have been advised to speak to my GP but worry if I get signed off I leave my colleagues (who have been so supportive) with my workload. I think if I got signed off I definitely wouldn't want to go back to work either. I have good support from my employer, I am just hesitant to take a lot of time off in case I need time further down the line if the results of his next scan bring bad news. 

  • Hello  ,

    I'm Su 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 00. Our 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 community@macmillan.org.uk.

    Best wishes,

    Online Community Team Leader

  • Hi Nana4


    Thank you for your question. My name is Linda and I am a work support adviser on the Macmillan Support Line.

    I am sorry to hear about your partner’s Oesophageal Cancer diagnosis. It sounds like you are having a difficult time trying to juggle work and your caring responsibilities for your partner.

    I would advise that you ask your Employer if they have a Carers Policy in place. If so, please obtain a copy of this for your own reference.

    Cancer is a recognised disability under the Equality Act 2010 or the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 if you live in Northern Ireland. You are protected from discrimination because you are associated with a cancer patient. The employer should not discriminate against you because of your caring responsibilities. Please see Working Families

    1. All employees have the right to request flexible working provided they have six-month service with the employer. This is not ideal for many carers because it can lead to a permanent change in your contract and a request can be rejected for business reasons.
    2. If you must take time off for a dependent in an emergency, you should not suffer any detriments or be disciplined for taking this time however you are not legally entitled to be paid. Please see Carers UK
    3. Your GP may agree to sign you off as sick due to the stressful situation you find yourself in. Your Company Sickness and Absence Policy will apply in this case. You may wish to have a little chat with your GP to see what their thoughts are regarding your health. They may be able to suggest carers to come into the home and support you with some of the caring responsibilities and take some pressure off you.

    As you have arthritis yourself you may be protected under the Equality Act 2010 from Disability Discrimination. The definition of a disabled worker (as defined by the Act) is someone who has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on the ability to carry out normal day to day activities. A range of physical and mental health issues impairments may be included, Long term is defined as expected to last at least 12 months or for the rest of a person’s life. Conditions which automatically meet the definition of disability from the point of diagnosis are cancer, multiple sclerosis and HIV.

    Your Doctor may be able to confirm this and if you are protected under the Equality Act 2010 you would be entitled to ask your Employer to put reasonable adjustments in place for you at work.


    Reasonable adjustments are changes to the workplace or job that allow a disabled person to keep in work or return to work. An employer has a duty to provide these adjustments as they need to ensure that the disabled employee is not at a substantial disadvantage due to the cancer diagnosis as compared to other colleagues who do not have cancer. Examples could be altering premises, changing working hours, allowing time off for treatment, buying new equipment, supplying additional training or just providing a parking space. What is ‘reasonable’ depends upon each individual case, but account will be taken of how effective the adjustment will be, the cost and the employer’s resources. An employer cannot be expected to make adjustments if they have not been informed of the employee’s disability or needs.


    If you need support or you need to talk please reach out to our services on the Macmillan support line.


    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