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Time off work to attend appointments and when in hospital

Posted by

My husband has been diagnosed with bowel cancer and has now had a ileostomy formed.

i want to go with him for any future out patient appointments/tests etc and be of when he has hospital stays so I can be around to support/drive him etc.

my manager had not been too understanding on these issues. What can I do?


Su - Macmillan
Posted by


Thank you so much for taking the time to contact us. I am sorry to hear that your manager has not been very understanding about you taking some time to support your husband.

As your husband has a cancer diagnosis he is considered to have a disability under the Equality Act 2010 (England, Scotland and Wales) or Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Northern Ireland). This means his employer should not discriminate against him because of his cancer. If he is employed his employer is also under a duty to make reasonable adjustments to help him at work. This protection is lifelong and does not depend on an active cancer diagnosis.

Under the Equality Act or Disability Discrimination Act carers also have some protection against discrimination “by association” with a disabled person. The booklet “Your Rights at Work”, linked here explains more about this.

I have attached a link to our booklet “Working while caring for someone with cancer”, which provides further information about your options and things to consider at work.

It may be worth checking your employer’s policies for carers. This information may be found within your contract of employment, staff handbook or internal intranet at work. Some employers offer more in their policies than the statutory minimum and therefore it is worth checking to see if this is the case with your organisation. If they do offer enhanced employee rights they should be following their own company policies. It may be worthwhile speaking to your manager and asking for discretionary pay for some or all of your carers leave, however they are not legally obliged to do so unless it is stated in the company policy.

If your employer has allowed other employees to take paid leave for caring commitments, then they should not treat you less favourably. If you feel you are being treated less favourably you may need to come back to us for some further guidance. Please remember if you do need to refer a matter to an Employment Tribunal you have 3 months less 1 day from the date of potential discrimination to lodge a claim.

A statutory right you have is to take time off to look after a dependant in an emergency. This would not normally apply to planned appointments. You can find out more information if you click here. An employer is not obligated to pay an employee for time off unless it is written into their contract of employment.

If you have 26 week’s continuous service, you have a statutory right to request flexible working. Under the statutory procedure, you can only make one request per year. Your employer can turn down a request for business reasons. They should follow a fair procedure, which would usually mean allowing you the right to appeal a negative decision. You can find more information if you click here. The Working Families website also have a lot of useful information include an template letter to request flexible working.

Another option you may consider a career break or sabbatical. As there are no laws that specifically deal with taking a career break it is advisable when considering taking one to get in writing any agreement that is made. You should check whether you are able to return to the same role and whether your pay and terms and conditions remain the same. You should also check that your service remains continuous and whether you will be paid during your absence. Your employer may have a policy regarding career breaks which you could check. For more information you may find the ACAS pages on taking a career break from work useful.

If you suffer a financial loss due to a possible reduction in hours because of your caring commitments, we have a team of experts in our Money and Work team. They can help with support relating to financial concerns and commitments. If you want to speak to the team, they are available on 0808 808 0000 Monday to Friday 8am till 6pm, by pressing option 2, followed by option 2 followed by option 2. If email would be preferred, please send us an email using the link here.

I hope you find this information helpful to your situation if you need further support please do not hesitate to contact us back.

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.


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.