No help from Manager...

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I have Anal Cancer, I had Chemo and Radiotherapy in June/July. During treatment my work were great.

However since treatment has finished they've completely changed. Originally I was allowed extra breaks if needed which I rarely took. I've now been told that if i'm ill I need to be off ill and they won't allow adhoc breaks anymore.

I've also been brought to an Absence Review Meeting as my sickness is 'too high', she has disregarded any sickness when I had treatment which was minimal (I worked through it all, except a few odd days). My other absences are Mental health which is due to me having cancer and also my mum having Bowel Cancer. Also i've been getting Migraines since I had treatment, I have told her this is linked to my cancer but this has been disregarded.

I had a scan to see if the treatment worked, which it sadly didn't. I then had 3 days off to get my head around either having a major op or knowing if it has spread elsewhere and being terminal. This also hasn't been classed as 'Cancer' on my sickness record, it's just written down as 'Anxiety'.

Is there anything I can do? I've looked into raising a grievance but it will become so awkward but I don't see any other option.

Also if I am allowed to take someone to the meeting is there anyone from Macmillan that can attend these types of meetings (over teams)

Thanks for listening, any advice would be great.

  • Hi Cl4r3


    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 and hopefully, we can guide you with next steps and the support you require at work. I am sorry to hear that you are having ongoing problems at work and that your treatment has not been as successful as hoped. I can appreciate that it must be a difficult time for you.

    I am not sure if you are aware, in case you are not, you have protection from disability discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 (or Disability Discrimination Act 1995 if you live in Northern Ireland).  Both Acts define cancer automatically as a disability, which means anyone diagnosed with cancer is considered to be disabled.  Under the Acts, providing your employer is aware of your diagnosis, you should not be discriminated against because of it. Your employer is duty-bound to make reasonable adjustments to support you either to remain at work or to return to work if you have had a period of absence.  Importantly, this protection is lifelong and does not depend upon an active cancer diagnosis. The additional rest breaks are considered to be a reasonable adjustment. The law states that although reasonable adjustments are temporary measures to support you, they should be in place for as long as is needed.

    Our publication “Your Rights At Work” explains more about the Acts and how you are protected in the workplace.

    I wonder if you have been referred to Occupational Health ? This is considered to be good employment practice. You will be assessed by a medical professional who can make recommendations for reasonable adjustments to support you at work. Both you and your Employer will receive a copy of the report produced.

    With regards to the absence review meetings, you can ask as a reasonable adjustment to have any cancer related absences disregarded from any absence trigger points. It does appear that your Employer have taken this into account but are not doing so for any absences relating to migraines and anxiety. It may be helpful to speak to your medical team to ask if they will confirm that these conditions are a result of your cancer treatment.


    When unable to resolve issues informally with management and are unsatisfied with the way that the employer has dealt with the complaint, the next step for a worker would be to raise a formal grievance. If an employer has a grievance procedure this process should be followed. It should include how to set out your grievance in writing, who to send the letter to, or who to write to if the usual line person is involved in the grievance, there should be a meeting to discuss the issues, how to appeal the employer’s decision and how long each stage should take.  Sometimes an independent mediator can be used to help resolve the issue. They can be located on the link below:

    Further information on grievance procedures can be found on the Citizens Advice and ACAS websites – as shown below:

    CAB raising a grievance at work

    ACAS Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance-procedures

    When raising a grievance, it is often worth reminding an employer of the protection under Equality Act 2010 (Disability Discrimination Act 1995 in Northern Ireland) if an employee feels that they are suffering worse conditions at work because of their disability. It is important to describe what happened with any supporting evidence if available and it is also useful to suggest a suitable workable outcome for all involved in the situation. 

    Unfortunately, Macmillan Cancer Support is unable to represent you at a formal meeting as this is out of the remit of our service. You do have the right to take a Trade Union Representative or a work colleague with you to the Grievance Meeting for support.

    I hope this information has been helpful but please do get back in touch with us if you have any further concerns.


    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