We understand that people with cancer are worried about coronavirus. Here is the latest guidance. We will update it regularly.

Ask a Work Support Adviser

Questions about work and cancer? Our Work Support team are here to answer your questions. They'll aim to respond within 1 working day.

Questions about work and cancer?

Ellen B - Macmillan

Our Work Support Team are here to answer any questions you might have. They'll aim to respond within 3 working days.

Ellen B - Macmillan

The session is open.

Posted by

Hello, I am.currently off of work due to my I'll health, o work in a health related job and I do not see myself being able to care for other people anytime soon... 

I don't know what my next step is as I don't know when I will be able to return to work

However I do feel presurised to get back to work due to family financial strain.

I would like to explore a new line of work with different responsibilities however I have no timescale for when this is achievable as everyday I have different challenges with my health and I am unsure how I can put this across to a new employer.

My current employer has various roles, do you think I would be able to apply for one of them or ask for support with this? I just don't know what I can do, but this is stressing me out not knowing what I can do or when... my life is on a down ward spiral

Polly - Macmillan
Posted by

Thank you for contacting the work support team. My name is Polly and I am a Work support adviser on the Macmillan Support Line.

I am so sorry to read about your continuing ill-health and your worries about going back to work.

You mention that you have financial worries. On the support line we have a financial help team who can talk over your worries about money and identify if you are eligible for financial support.

Welfare Rights advisors are available: 0808 808 0000 Monday to Friday, from 8am until 8pm and Saturdays between 9am and 5pm selecting option 1, then 2, then 2.


The first step in the journey back to work is to ask your self – am I well enough? If you are unsure you can speak to your GP or your hospital health professional and they can give you an opinion about this.

If you feel that you can do some work and your GP agrees then they can issue a Fit Note which indicates that you can work and include suggestions that support you. This can be passed on to the employer.

It is important to remember if 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.

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

The duty to make reasonable adjustments falls within the questions you raise because the employer is required to remove the barriers to work. This could include working in another role in the company and help with the application process. I suggest you make a request in writing for reasonable adjustments. If you have a union rep you could discuss this with them. I have attached a link to Equality Advisory and Support Service template letters that you can use to request reasonable adjustments (titled “Request to make Reasonable Adjustments”). You can include suggestions about the adjustments you need. Your company may arrange for you to have an Occupational Health assessment to identify reasonable adjustments you may need. This can often help with formalising a back to work plan.


Please see this link about how you are protected from discrimination in recruitment. It is important to remember that prospective employers must look for the best candidate for a job considering their qualifications, experience and personal qualities. If you need help to improve your career prospects or to change the direction of your career I suggest that you contact  The National Careers Service


If you need to talk to us about your work problems please feel free to give the Work Support Team a call on 0808 808 0000 Monday to Friday, from 8am until 6pm selecting option 1, then 2, then 3.


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