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Exeeding sick leave

Posted by

Hi last year (18th jan 17) i had a craniostomy to remove the 1st of 3 brain tumours, i took 3 months off work( i kept the sister up to date witn regular meetings..that i initiated..she never once made contact with me, my husband, parents or the ward i was on in all the time i took off though she insissed on having all the contact details before i took leave) and was cleared by occ health to return. I work for the nhs as a heath care assistant..working part time (1x 13 hr shift plus 1 7.30 til 14.00 shift per week. I Have work on the same ward since 2000. starting as full time and gradually reducing my hours over the last 8 years due to adopting a child with learning difficulties. 

At the beginning of this January  2019 i received a letter 'inviting'  me to an informal meeting to disscuss my exessive sick leave. The meeting was carried out swiftly..within 30 minutes of receiving the letter. 

I will need gamma knife ratiation to treat the next tumour within the next 2 years..i am being scanned 6 monthly at present,..requiring more time off then the 3rd tumour will need treating..not sure how yet.  After that i will continue to grow more brain tumours for the rest of my life, all requiring treatment in their time. (the tumours were caused but radiotherapy fo A.L.L. in the 1970s )I travel to my haem appointments in London every other monday ..i do this in my own time.

I am worried about taking more time off which would seem to mean more meeting to go on my record...presumably these wont remain unofficial thus endangering my employment. 

Su - Macmillan
Posted by

Hi ,

Thank you first for getting in touch with us here on the Work Support team. You may be aware however it is worthwhile me mentioning to you that if you have a cancer diagnosis (or pre-cancerous condition) you are automatically 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 doesn’t depend on an active cancer diagnosis. If you brain tumours are benign you may still be protected under these Acts as your condition may be classed as a disability if its effects are “long term” and “substantive”. Here is a link to a documents created by the Equality Advisory Service relating to disability.

I’ve attached a link our booklet ‘Your Rights at Work’, which explains more about the Equality Act and how you are protected in the workplace.

I understand it can be very upsetting when you are off from work and feel that there has been limited contact. Employers can find it difficult getting the right balance on how often they should keep in touch. We publish a booklet called “Managing cancer in the workplace”, this is written for employers to gain a clearer understand of how to support employees who have been affected by cancer in the workplace, here is a link to the booklet, you may want to share with your employer. We also offer Macmillan at Work where they can access expert training, resources and advice to help them to support staff affected by cancer, here is the link to the pages.

You mentioned that you have been invited in for a sickness management meeting and are concerned as you are due further treatment and therefore taking more time off work is unavoidable. Most organisations have a sickness management policy, where employees hit various stages depending on the level and length of time they have had off sick. I would encourage you to get a copy of your sickness management policy.

As a person who is protected under the Equality Act 2010 or Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Northern Ireland), you have the right to request reasonable adjustments. 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. You may try to request that your cancer or disability related absence be marked as “disability absence” and therefore excluded from sickness management triggers, it will still be recorded, however not considered for sickness management purposes. Some companies write this into their sickness management policy, however in some instances you will need to request this as a reasonable adjustment.

You can request a reasonable adjustment in the workplace, providing you can relate it back to your cancer or disability. 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. If you feel this applies, it would be advisable to seek further advice.

You may wish to ask for an occupational health assessment. Advice from occupational health should help your employer understand what types of support you need in the workplace. It should also tell them whether there are any reasonable adjustments that could help you in work.

If you are a union member it may be worth seeking some support from them if are concerned.

I hope you find this information helpful to your situation if you need further support please do not hesitate to contact us back.


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.