Equality Act

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I returned to work following cancer treatment in October of this year. My employer has placed me on monitoring for absence with a target of no more than 4 days absence in the  12 month since my return to work.  Should I breach this target I am at risk of being put on a further target which if I was to breach again could lead to dismissal.

Though I am fortunately in remission I have been advised I am at high risk of a reoccurrence so any further absences from work is a obviously a concern.

I appreciate absence has to be policed to ensure it is not abused and I have been advised should the worse scenario occur my case will be looked at favourably. 

My question is does the Equality Act 2010 ( protected characteristic disabilty )which I believe cancer falls under  cover when an individual is in remission or only whilst having active treatment ?


  • So for clarity to be placed on targets for absence with a view to improve attendance would be deemed as being treated unfairly/discriminatory under the Act 

  • Hi Lizzy16

    Thank you for contacting Macmillan Cancer Support. My name is Linda and I am a work support adviser on the Macmillan support line. Apologies for the delay in responding to your question. I am sorry to read about your work worries relating to your sickness absence.

    As a cancer patient you have a recognised disability under the Equality Act 2010 (or the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 if you live in Northern Ireland)

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

    This means that the employer must make reasonable adjustments to help you overcome disadvantages related to your health and your cancer at work and you are protected from Disability Discrimination. This protection is lifelong and is not dependant on you having active cancer treatment.

    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.  Employers do have the right to follow their own sickness and absence policy but they should also make sure policies and practices do not put disabled people at a disadvantage.

    Reasonable adjustments template letter - soft approach.docx

    You can ask as a Reasonable Adjustment for any cancer related sickness absences not to be taken into account for trigger point purposes. This is because as a Cancer patient you would be deemed more likely to have more periods of sickness absence than a colleague that is normally fit and well. You Employer must give your request careful consideration and can only refuse a reasonable adjustment if they can explain to you why they consider your request to be unreasonable.

    This link may help you Disability-related absence: Supporting disabled people at work - Acas

    You do not mention if you are a member of a Trade Union at work but if so, I would suggest that you speak to them for additional support.

    I hope this has answered your question but please do not hesitate to get back in touch if you have any further questions. The Work Support Team are available Monday - Friday 8am -6pm on 0808 808 0000 ( press option 1,2,3) 

    Kind Regards



    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