We understand that people with cancer are worried about coronavirus. Here is the latest guidance. We will update it regularly.

Ask a Work Support Adviser

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

Working alongside caring for someone with cancer

Posted by

Hello , I’m looking for some advice 

my fiancé dale got diagnosed with Leukemia 21st September. 
He has daily doses of radiation , Monday to Friday. 
Friday he has a blood transfusion , leading him to often be very ill over the weekend as expected

i work full time as a manger at a leading supermarket. 
My HR manager gave me a weeks paid leave which is due to end today , with me returning to work tomorrow full time

i can’t claim carers , as I earn too much & I cannot go down to £123 a week. The rent for property alone is £400 PCM. 

I essentially would like to take extended leave from work , but they cannot commit to this as I only have a certain amount of holidays left ( others previously been used and taken ). I earn a salary each month which we are currently living on as my partner does not get paid from his work place if he calls in sick 

I would love some advice on what we can do , as this is starting to cause stress between us at a time when he needs me the most 

am I entitled to anything ? 

thank you ! 

Polly - Macmillan
Posted by

Hi  Kirsten2091


My name is Polly and I am a Work Support Advisor on the Macmillan Support line, we advise cancer patients and their carers about their employment rights. I am sorry to hear that Dale has been diagnosed with leukaemia and that you have problems taking time off to care for him.

Please think about the following points in relation to this problem:

  1. Under the Equality Act 2010 or Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Northern Ireland) carers have some protection against discrimination ‘by association’ with a disabled person. 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. Your Partner is considered disabled because of their cancer diagnosis. In addition, this booklet contains information about flexible working and the right to time off for a dependant in an emergency
  2. It may be worth checking your employer’s policies about carers. This information may be found within your contract of employment or staff handbook.
  3. You mention that you need a longer period of leave because Dale is so unwell. One option is to take a career break. Please note that this is unpaid leave and some employers class a career break as a break in service. This means you may lose some of your legal protection related to your length of service such as notice and unfair dismissal protection. In addition, the employer is not legally required to hold open your position for you until your return. The first step is to check if your company has a policy relating to Career Breaks. If you take this option, I suggest you ask the employer to put something in writing to state they will allow your return to your current role and class your career break as continuous service. Please see the ACAS website . The Financial help team on the Support Line can advise you further about benefit entitlement please call the Welfare Rights advisors: call 0808 808 0000 Monday to Friday, from 8am until 8pm and Saturdays between 9am and 5pm selecting option 1, then 2, then 2.
  4. You could also ask if there is a chance that you could take a period of unpaid leave or a temporary reduction in hours to help you manage your caring responsibilities
  5. For many caring for someone can increase stress to a point where they cannot work. This means that they must take sick leave and receive sick pay from the employer.


I hope this information helps. If you need to talk about it please call the Work Support team on 0808 808 0000 Monday to Friday, from 8am until 6pm selecting option 1, then 2, then 3.


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