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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.


Posted by

at what point can i or should i consider retirement, i'm 63 just waiting on confirmation of diagnosis

a father and gardener, I successfully grow plants and proudly grow children

Sian R - Macmillan
Posted by

Hi ,

Thank you for taking the time to contact us about your work situation. I understand that you may be considering retirement from work.

Based on the information you have given us it is not clear whether you are employed or self-employed.

If you are employed and have a formal cancer diagnosis you will be 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 does not depend on an active cancer diagnosis.

If you are self-employed you are not covered under the Equality Act 2010 section 5 or Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Northern Ireland). However, if you are under a contract to perform the service personally, then you may be protected from discrimination, harassment and victimisation. 

If a self-employed individual has a genuine, unrestricted legal right to send someone else of their own choice to do their work they will be genuinely self-employed and therefore will have no protection from discrimination at work. If you are unclear on your employment status you would need to seek legal advice on this matter. Please find more information on your rights as self-employed here.

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.

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. If you would like to discuss your personal situation further, please call us on the Work Support team using the number below.

If you are thinking of retiring because of ill health or a disability, it is advisable to take time to consider your options and to make sure that this is something you want for yourself. Your employer cannot force you to take you take ill health retirement.

In order to gain more detail about how a possible ill-health retirement may affect you financially, it would be helpful for you to give our Support Line a call. On our Money and Work team we have Financial Guides who can support you further with this. The Support Line itself is available 7 days a week, 8am-8pm on freephone 0808 808 00 00. I would recommend giving the Financial Guides a call between Monday-Friday 8am-6pm as that is when they are available.

Additionally, if you would like to check your state pension age you can do so on the website. In some cases, people can do some form of work whilst undergoing cancer treatment. This would need to be considered in light of any reasonable adjustments that you may need. In other cases, an employer can force you to retire at a certain age known as ‘compulsory retirement age’. If they decide to do this they must give you a good reason why, such as the physical requirement of the job or an age limit set by law for a particular occupation. The law does however protect you from age discrimination.

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.