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

RE: Questions about work and cancer?

Posted by

Had a craniostomy jan 18 2018. Just before jan 18 this year i was 'invited'  to an informal meeting to discuss having exededed my sick leave..i had taken 3 months off afer sugery but no other sick leave since. ..i have 2 more brain tumours which will need treatment..i am scarred of loosing my job as a part time health care assistant workink for the nhs...can they do this?

Posted by

Hi I too work for NHS and have attended 3 sickness reviews. The last one in January. HR never turned up at the last one yet I had got a taxi to work i was not feeling great either. 

My advise is go to citizens advise or look at ACAS who have info online. 

If your ina Union get them to attend meetings with you.They can’t sack you without trying to offer you reasonable adjustments either phased return redeployment etc. Once they have offered this and you can’t  work they can I think sack you on competency lines. I think I’m right but they are brutal I feel I am sick of the way I have been treated wages have messed up big time yet they don’t give a ...

anyhow if I was you get to know your employment rights as cancer comes under the disability act  even when recovering and bk at work. 

Good luck xx

Posted by

Hi Lemonade

Thanks for advise..couldnt understand as i had been through all the meetings before and after surgery passed by occ heath ..whose recommendations were blatently ignored. I had phased return and returned to my regular part time shifts only to receive this letter giving 30 minutes warning of the meeting.

I have pending gamma knife due for which ill need at lest 2 weeks off..was wondering whether 'nhs staff sacked for having brain tumours treated' could seriously go to tribunial..or how it would look in the public media?

Thanks ,will try citizens advise..good luck to you too..are you still working?


Sian R - Macmillan
Posted by

Hi ,

Thank you for getting in touch with us again.I can see that  has provided you with some thoughts around their own experience.

You mentioned in your post that you will need more treatment for the brain tumours and that the need for this time off is causing you to worry that you may not keep your job.

As previously mentioned you have a cancer diagnosis and have protection from discrimination as a disabled person under the Equality Act 2010 (or the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 if in Northern Ireland). As part of this protection you have the right to ask for reasonable adjustments which are changes at work which help to avoid you facing substantial disadvantage. If you have not already done so it would be advisable to ask for reasonable adjustments as a failure to make these is 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 have returned to work and in relation to disability-related sickness you could potentially ask that any absences that relate to your cancer are counted as disability-related absence. This would mean that they may not count towards sickness absence triggers. Whilst some workplaces may have a policy of discounting some or all of a disability-related absence, this is not an automatic requirement so asking for these as a reasonable adjustment may be helpful.

If you are still off sick and unable to give an employer an expected return to work date, an employer may be able to consider instigating capability procedures. If they are looking at this, they should follow a fair procedure including a reasonable return to work date, and any reasonable adjustments that can be put in place to support your return. If you’ve worked there at least 2 years you also have protection from unfair dismissal. If you are worried about dismissal, it would be advisable to seek specialist advice as soon as possible. If you are a member of a union, seeking further information and support from them would be advisable. The time limit to bring a claim to an Employment Tribunal is 3 months less one day. There is further information about fair and unfair dismissals as well as discipline and grievance on the ACAS website in the links above.   

As previously mentioned, you may find that asking for an Occupational Health referral is helpful in identifying support that can be put in place by your employer on your return to work. It can be beneficial to give them positive messages about coming back to work.

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 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.