Cancer diagnosis during probation

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I joined my new employer on the 29th May this year, probation is due to end 30th November. However I have been diagnosed with early stage cancer of the womb and will have a full hysterectomy on the 27th of November.

I had a days absence due to food poisoning and 3 days off due to the reaction to the general anesthetic when they did a biopsy of my womb lining. So I have hit the trigger for formal action. There are no concerns over my work, punctuality, attitude etc. 

I am so worried that I will be dismissed, I'm not eating or sleeping because of everything going on. I know I am.covered by the equality act at work but I cant find any information for my situation. Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks

  • 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

    Best wishes,

    Online Community Team Leader

  • Hi Bigbag

    Thank you for posting your question. My name is Linda and I am one of the Work Support Advisers on our Support Line.

    I am sorry to hear about your womb cancer diagnosis. I hope your treatment goes well and you make a good recovery.

    You mentioned already that you are aware of the protection that Cancer patients have under the Equality Act 2010 (Disability Discrimination Act 1995 for Northern Ireland). Your protection is from Disability Discrimination and the protection remains in place for as long as is needed. This is not dependent on you having active cancer treatment or being in remission. An Employer may not discriminate against you or treat you less favourably than another employee due to your diagnosis.

    I have provided a link to our Booklet “ Your Rights at Work when affected by Cancer “

    You also have the right to ask your Employer to provide Reasonable Adjustments for you at work if needed.


    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. 


    You can request a reasonable adjustment in the workplace, providing you can relate it back to your cancer. Your Employer is following their own sickness and absence policy with regards to absence related trigger points. An example of a reasonable adjustment in your situation may be to ask Employer to disregard any Cancer related absences from the absence trigger points. This is because as a Cancer patient you may have to have more time off work for biopsies, scans , surgery or treatment than other members of staff.

    You mentioned that you are concerned about your probation period coming to an end and potential dismissal. You have completed most of your probation period  already and not had much time off sick or had any concerns about your work, timekeeping or attitude. It could potentially be deemed as disability discrimination against you if an Employer was to terminate your Employment or fail your probation due to your Cancer diagnosis and time off for your treatment. You have the right to be supported at work. Your Employer may ask to possibly extend your probation period if they need a slightly longer period to assess you.

    Please do speak to your medical team if you feel that you are having ongoing problems with eating as sleeping as they can support with this.

    I hope this information has been helpful today but please do not hesitate to get back in touch with us 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