Reasonable adjustments at work

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Hi. I have been lucky with my employer that I was given 6 months full pay whilst off sick having cancer treatment. (For background, I had breast cancer in 2020 - lumpectomy and radiotherapy. 2023 - I had a local recurrence and had a mastectomy, implant and full left side lymph node clearance. I only had surgery, I did not approve chemo or hormone blockers due to the side effects.) Since I returned to work in January I have been on reduced hours, but I suffer from fatigue much more badly than previously. As a result I have just had a month off sick signed off by my GP.

Please could you let me know what my rights are at work in terms of both support for me and my employer?  I am a tech project manager. It seems that both my manager and the HR department have little experience in supporting someone returning to work from cancer. In terms of reasonable adjustments to my disability, I think that reduced hours / changing the projects I manage is reasonable. Is there any documentation / information we can review together? Is there anything else you would recommend?

I do need to be able to work as I would not be able to pay my mortgage otherwise.

If you need any further information please let me know. Thanks.

  • Hi angrylady

    My name is Linda and I am one of the Work Support Advisers on the Macmillan National Support Line . I can advise on your Rights at Work following a Cancer diagnosis.

    I am sorry to hear that you have had a recurrence of your breast cancer. I do hope you have been well supported by your medical team.


    We currently run a “ Macmillan at Work “ programme which has been specifically designed for Employers on how to support employees who have been affected by Cancer. This may be useful for your Manager and HR Team if they feel a little inexperienced. There is further information on this below.

    Macmillan at Work | Macmillan Cancer Support


    As you have a cancer diagnosis you are considered to have a disability under the Equality Act 2010 or Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Northern Ireland). This means your employer should not discriminate against you because of your cancer. Your employer is also under a duty to make reasonable adjustments to help you at work. This protection is lifelong and does not depend on an active cancer diagnosis.


    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.

    An example of a reasonable adjustment may be returning on a phased return to work and building up your hours or amended/lighter duties. Please check what your company policy is on working reduced hours as they are only legally obliged to pay you for the hours you work unless their policy states differently. You may wish to use some annual leave to top up your income if you were to only be paid for the time worked.

    You can request a reasonable adjustment in the workplace, providing you can relate it back to your cancer. Your employer has a duty to consider all reasonable adjustments and a failure to do so could suggest disability discrimination. If your employer rejects a reasonable adjustment request they need to be able to demonstrate why it is “unreasonable” for them to accommodate or it could suggest that you are being treated less favourably as a disabled person. 

     Occupational Health

    It is normal practice for an employer to request an occupational health report when an employee has been on long term sick, particularly if they are about to return to work or if they are on  ‘phased return’. If this has not already been suggested then you can ask your Employer for a referral to be made. Employees are often asked for permission to access medical records. Advice from occupational health should help an employer understand whether they are likely to return to work. It should also tell them whether any reasonable adjustments should be made to support someone in their return to work.

    Here is a link to the NHS website that explains their work:


    Here is a link to our Booklet and Reasonable Adjustments Guide  that may be helpful :

    Your Rights at Work when affected by cancer

    Reasonable adjustments in the workplace for people with cancer | Macmillan Cancer Support

    It may be beneficial to have a chat with a Work Support Adviser to explore any further questions you may have. We are available on 0808 808 0000 ( option 1, option 2, option 3) Monday – Friday 8am -6pm.  

    You also mentioned your need to work to repay your Mortgage. I wonder if you have had a financial assessment previously ?

    I would recommend reaching out to our Welfare Rights team here on the Support Line regarding your circumstances as they will be able to explore any support, that you may be eligible for. The team can be reached on 0808 808 00 00 pressing option 1,2 and 2 again. Alternatively they can be contacted here by online chat.

    We also have our Financial Guidance team here on the Support Line. They are available on the above number too, Monday to Friday, from 8am until 6pm selecting option 1, then 2, then 1. By email or chat online. They can provide guidance relating personal finances, such as, mortgages, debts, loans, insurance, pensions etc.


    I do hope this information has been helpful.


    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










  • Thank you very much for the help with this. I will forward this to my manager and HR. It is great to know that this support is available.