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Now I’m fit and well, I’m moving to another town and I’m worried that any potential employer will over look me due to my sickness record over the past 16 months. I’m very proud that I managed to work between treatments - but I was still off 5-6 months in total.
Do I tell them at the interview stage or when I’ve been offered the job? Not every employer may understand how hard treatment is, or think I’ll be off regularly. Do we have rights?
Many thanks for contacting us. I hope all goes well with your move. In answer to your question, as a person diagnosed with cancer you do have rights. Anyone with a cancer diagnosis is covered by a piece of legislation called the Equality Act 2010 (England, Wales and Scotland), or the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Northern Ireland) and under this you would be classified as being disabled. The protection is lifelong and doesn’t rely on a cancer diagnosis.
The legislation prevents employers from discriminating against anyone covered by the Acts. It also requires them to make Reasonable Adjustments if you need them, even at interview stage.
Reasonable Adjustments require an employer to avoid, as far as possible by reasonable means, the disadvantages which a disabled person experiences because of their disability. When recruiting, an employer should only ask health related questions if they are a necessary requirement of the job that cannot be met with Reasonable Adjustments, or to find out if someone needs help to take part in a selection test/interview or is using “positive action” to recruit a disabled person. The requirements under the Acts mean a potential employer may choose not ask health related questions to avoid discriminating until after they have offered the role to you. If an employer withdrew a job offer due to your cancer, it may be classed as discrimination. Please do contact us on the Work Support Team if you believe this has happened.
As you’ve said you are now fit and well, you may not feel that you need Reasonable Adjustments. Whilst it’s important not to lie to an employer, you can choose when or whether you wish to make potential employers aware of your diagnosis.
I’m not clear from your query if the 5-6 months you weren’t able to work caused a break in service. This may have caused a gap in your CV which you may be asked questions around. You could explain this in an interview by letting the employer know that whilst you were unwell, you now feel fully recovered and feel you able to return to work. It’s important to give positive messages that you are ready to work. If you are asked questions relating to previous sickness absence at pre-employment stage these are likely to fall foul of disability discrimination rules. Please do contact us on the Work Support Team for further advice.
In some circumstances people affected by cancer find disclosure a positive. There is a government scheme called Disability Confident which if an employer is a member, guarantees that disabled applicants will receive an interview if their skills match the job skills in the vacancy. You can search for vacancies with Disability Confident employers on the GOV. UK website. For some people affected by cancer they feel explaining the difficulties they have overcome and relating these to their role is positive as it demonstrates resilience.
Whilst I cannot say which approach will be right for you, I hope the attached information helps you decide what to do and wish you good luck in your job search. If you do need any further support though, please don’t hesitate to contact us again.
Thank you so much Emma G.
I'm now clear on what and when I have to give this information to a new employer. I wasn't sure if I was still classed as disabled, and it's nice to know we have rights/protection for life :-)
Great to hear you found the information helpful.
If you need any further support, please come back to us.
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.
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