I was diagnosed with vulval cancer in 2015 and had a wide local excision done. I suffer with hpv 16 and for some reason my immune system doesn’t fight the infection. I’ve had operations every 4 months since to remove pre cancerous cells. I’m currently off work at the moment after having surgery. The thing is as a result of all the operations I’m on a first written warning at work. It will then become a final written warning and then dismissal. When I’m at work I work like a Trojan but having this looming over my head on top of recurring pre cancerous cells is just so stressful. So I’m just wondering is there anything I can do? Any advice would be greatly received.
Thank you so much for taking the time to contact us about your work situation and the stress you are feeling due to the management of your sickness level.
This can be an issue for many people affected by cancer, pre-cancerous conditions and other long-term conditions which may have a significant impact on their sickness record.
I am not sure if you are aware but pre-cancerous conditions are protected in the workplace from disability discrimination. A cancer diagnosis or a pre-cancerous condition means you are considered to have a disability under the Equality Act 2010 (England, Scotland and Wales) or Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Northern Ireland). This means your employer should not discriminate against you because of your diagnosis. 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 or pre-cancerous condition.
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. Please note your employer does need to be aware of your diagnosis for you to have the protection as they cannot be accused of being discriminatory if they are unaware of the condition you have.
Under the Equality legislation there is no automatic right for an employer to disregard any disability related absence as part of a sickness management process. However, some employers include in their sickness and absence policy that they will exclude any disability (cancer) related absence from sickness management triggers. This means that if an employee required time off for cancer treatment, these occasions would be excluded from hitting sickness management triggers. This is to ensure that people who are protected under the Equality Act 2010 or Disability Discrimination Act 1995 are not at a disadvantage in the workplace. It may be worth checking your organisations sickness management policy. If it does not state any disability or cancer related absence will be excluded, you could ask if they could accommodate this for you to ensure you are not being treated less favourably. Although it is not a reasonable adjustment for an employer to give higher ‘trigger points’ to a disabled employee when they are off sick compared to a non-disabled employee, an employer does still have to proceed carefully when looking at capability proceedings in the case of a disabled employee. This is because a disabled employee should not be treated less favourably.
I hope this information is helpful for you.
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.
Thank you so much for your reply I have found this very useful and will refer back to my staff handbook for their policies on cancer.
I appreciate you taking the time for clearing this up for me as my head has been totally done in with it all.
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