Contact while of sick while recovering

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Hi I have had my operation to remove Lowe left lobe to remove the cancer. As my work involves pay (payroll) then it is very confidential, whilst I work for a large company the job I do is a stand alone position so I have no cover. 2 weeks after my op I got a call from the agency stand in to ask q’s, I did not feel he was doing the job as well as he should so I agreed to do phased RTW, as long as the agency stand in stayed. The stand in left under gross misconduct, so I was left to do it all which meant I was doing full time, although this was all WFH. I have now gone sick again, as the pains and the emotions are at a high. I have shed for a further sick note as the meds I am on for the pain make me woozy, and do not believe I could not do my job on them. The problem I have is the cut off period is looming and I know they are depending on me returning but I do not feel well enough, My manager is going to ring me, he pretends it is to see how I am but then he goes on to work. Is he allowed to ask me about work while I am off sick? Also as my absences have been diff periods I will of hit the 3 times off which warrants a disciplinary, would this count, or would the disability act cover it? I was already classed as disabled anyhow through to COPD, which my company are aware I have
Any advice would be grateful Thank you


  • Hi Suzieblues,

    My name is Linda and I am one of the Work Support Advisers on our National Support Line. I am sorry for the delay in responding to your query.

    It is important to remember as a cancer patient, that you are protected under the Equality Act 2010 (or Disability Discrimination 1995 in you live in Northern Ireland) from the date of your diagnosis, this remains in place for as long as is needed. Cancer is automatically recognised as a disability under the Act and this means that your employer must not discriminate against you because of the cancer, or for reasons relating to it. 


    MAC12981Yourrightsatwork (


    Your employer is also under a duty to make reasonable adjustments to support you to either remain at or return to work. It sounds like you already have some knowledge of this protection due to your COPD. Reasonable adjustments may be anything you need as support such as working from home, regular rest breaks, phased return to work. You can also ask your Employer to refer you to Occupational Health for a medical assessment prior to your return to work. This is considered to be good employment practice. Your Employer will receive a report confirming if you are fit to work or not and what reasonable adjustments are recommended by the medical professional to your Employer support you in your job.

    Our Reasonable Adjustment Template can be used to submit your requests for support at work.

    Reasonable adjustments template letter - soft approach.docx

    Here is a link from ACAS to support you further Disability-related absence: Supporting disabled people at work - Acas

    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.


    When you are off sick an Employer has the right to remain in contact with you and to manage the sickness absence sometimes in terms of their Company Policy. Please do check the information in the Sickness and Absence Policy( if they have one )  relating to frequency of contact with you when off work. You can agree how often you wish to be contacted and what the preferred method of contact is ie email, phone or text. However you should not be asked work related questions or be expected to work when you are deemed not well enough to do so.

    It is good practice to have communication between the Employer and Employee when you are off sick. This could be to ask how you are feeling and if there is anything the Employer can do to support you. They may ask if you can give an indication as to when you do think you will be well enough to return to work. These conversations can also be used to update you on any changes within the business that they feel you should be made aware of.

    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 ongoing support.


    I hope this has been helpful but please do not hesitate to get back in touch with us if you require any further support.

    Please have a look at our booklet “Questions to ask about work and cancer”.


    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

  • Thanks Linda for your reply, before my operation, they were great allowing me to WFH 3 days per week and time paid when goin* for appointments etc. they had plenty of time to find suitable cover, although time was wasted with 2 agency staff who were trained to a point, of allowing me to do phased RTW, both left due to different circumstances so that just left me again. If I am honest, which I am often questioning myself, if I was in a diff job, and my employer allowed me to heal over my own time, without any interaction apart from ringing me to see how I was, then I would not consider going back to work! But I am not and if I do not go back into work then employees will not be paid what they have worked for to get their kids Christmas presents. I know I will be told that is the companies duty but it still does not help them get their pay. I guess they are depending on that to get me back in. I have said I will go ‘in’ next week (WFH) but then I want the correct phased RTW. I have told them I am not 100% but they are still saying ‘ well I know it’s selfish but we do need you in to sort it’ 

  • #Suzieblues

    Hi Suziblues

    Thank you for your response to my message.

    I understand  that you feel that you are still responsible for having to complete the Company Payroll when you are off work sick. I am sure management will know that you are a very conscientious member of staff but this should not be expected of you . It is your employer’s responsibility to ensure that there is a suitable replacement to cover the job role in your absence.

    My concern is that you could make yourself more unwell by working when you are not fit enough and this could result in you needing more time off sick. If you have a Fit Note from your GP they must feel that you are not well enough to work. It is your decision as to how you wish to proceed, but your health and well being is very important and you may wish to give this careful consideration.

    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


    Work Support Adviser

    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.