Post treatment side effects

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So my Company have been amazing throughout my treatment for breast cancer. 

Now however I have 2 infusions of Zomita a year and it really affects me for a few days after with aches and pains headaches and tiredness.

I spoke to my managers and they have said that I meed to use annual leave  or sick for this and that there is nothing they can do as the policy doesn't allow for the side effects and only the treatment. So basically they would give me time off for the treatment but don't seem to consider any side effects. Is this correct? Or should reasonable adjustments be made?

If adjustments should be made are you able to advise on how best to deal with this.As it stands I am using my annual up on medical appointments and treatment side effects as opposed to living life and it is starting to get me down.

Thanks in advance 


  • Hi Philippa

    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 pleased to hear that your Employers were supportive during your cancer treatment. However, you do seem disappointed that the support is not ongoing with your infusions and related side effects.

    Any time off for medical appointments does depend on Company Policy. Some Employers will offer paid time off or offer for you to make the time up at another date. It could be taken as unpaid leave or using your annual leave to cover this.

    If you are not well enough to work after the infusions then your Company sickness and absence policy would apply. You can self certify your sickness absence for up to 7 days. If you were to be unfit for work for a longer period then a Fit Note would need to be given to your Employer outlining the reason for your absence.

    You can ask as a Reasonable Adjustment for any Cancer related absences not to be taken into account for any absence trigger points that may be outlined in Company Policy.

    In respect to recording the number of sickness absences, if an organisation uses trigger points to monitor this, they could provide reasonable adjustments by:

    • not counting some or all sickness absence related to a disability towards those trigger points
    • increasing the number of absences that would trigger a review
    • choosing to record a disability related absence separately to other types of sickness absence. It might be called disability leave or disability-related sickness absence for example.

    If separate categories are not used, employer should exercise care in analysing data relating to that individual and look to the reasons for the absence before taking any decision on the basis of the data collated.

    Disciplining for sickness related absence could be discriminatory.  Absences should only be taken into account if the employer is satisfied that all reasonable adjustments have been made. An employer does not have to make ‘any’ adjustment if it is not reasonable, but they must make sure they are not treating the person badly or putting them at a disadvantage because of their disability. 

    Another example could be where an employee needs time off for cancer treatment and recovery and their employer agrees that they can take this time off as ‘disability leave’ (which would be a reasonable adjustment) and then return to the job. Later, the employer uses attendance as one of the criteria for selection for redundancy. The employer discounts their period of ‘disability leave’ so that they are not put at a disadvantage during the selection process.


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


    You do 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.

    I do hope this has answered your question but do not hesitate to get back in touch if you require any further support.

    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