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Dilemma- About to start a new job

Posted by

Hi i have been so worried and don't know what to do. I have been diagnosed with stage 2b melanoma in the last 2 days.  I obviously now have a wle to be scheduled but have also opted for sentinel node biopsy to clear the way forward if need be. My problem is this though.  I had been offered a job (after a long long time of rejections) and am due to start on the 1st of April. It involves intensive training and there are 4 exit points to this if i don't make the grade. They have also specified absolutely no time off in those 3 training months. Up until 2 days ago i didn't see a problem but now realise that the upcoming surgery is not an in and out affair with regard to recovery times.  I don't know what to do. I've been out of work for so long and have informed dwp and housing of my job start dates and moving the middle of moving out of accommodation to get something better on the premise of having a job. I now fear what will happen because of the surgery recovery time and also my head being in an absolute mess trying to process my diagnosis. 

I doubt how sympathetic they would be to moving start dates and I'm struggling for solutions. This has all been really really bad timing. 

Could you advise me please on my best way forward. 

Thank you

Su - Macmillan
Posted by

Good Morning J,

Thank you so much for taking the time to get in touch with us about your new job opportunity, I am sorry to hear about the timing of your diagnosis with Melanoma. I understand that this has changed a lot of the plans that you had in place and is causing you a lot of worry at this time.

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 doesn’t depend on an active cancer diagnosis.

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.

The protection that you have under the Equality Act 2010 (England, Scotland and Wales) or the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Northern Ireland), applies to the recruitment process as well. It is possible to ask questions about an employee’s health after a job offer has been made. If based on this information the offer is withdrawn without good reason, then this could be classed as disability discrimination. Please seek further advice from the Work Support Team if this happens. Please remember that the protection you have under these acts is only in place if your employer is aware of your diagnosis as they cannot be held accountable for possible disability discrimination if they were unaware of your cancer.

You could ask your employer to delay your start date to allow you to have your treatment, this would not be a reasonable adjustment as you would not have commenced your employment. If you were to start as agreed on the 1st April and informed your employer of your cancer diagnosis, you could ask as a reasonable adjustment to accommodate some of your training commitments around your treatment schedule. It is advisable to be open and honest with your employer which can hopefully help resolve some of your concerns.

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 can request a reasonable adjustment in the workplace, providing you can related 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. If you feel this applies, it would be advisable to seek further advice.

I suggest you make a request in writing for reasonable adjustments to help you cope with your job. If you have a union rep you could discuss this with them. I’ve attached a link to Equality Advisory and Support Service template letters resource that you can use to request reasonable adjustments (titled “Request to make Reasonable Adjustments”. You can include suggestions about the adjustments you need. It may help to support your request with medical evidence from your doctor, such as a fit note that lists 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. If you are still unable to resolve things, then you may need to raise a grievance and it would be advisable to seek further advice at this stage.

Within our Money and Work service we have Welfare Rights Advisers who can talk to you about what benefits as well as talking through any other financial support that might be available to you. The Support Line is available 7 days a week, 8am-8pm on freephone 0808 808 00 00. I’d recommend giving them a call between Monday-Friday as that’s when our financial team is available. Alternatively, we have community based benefits advisors, here is a link to the “In your area” section of our website where you can find services close to home.

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.