Returning to work

I was working 40hrs a week then in Jan 2020 diagnosed with non hodgkin's lymphoma..had the 28weeks ssp  then any holiday pay paid to me.have been on universal credit all year. Have been told in Sept that I was in remission told boss that I would be looking at phasing my return to work in Jan 2021 health permitting. I have had a scan and something g little showed up and am going for another pet scan in March to see if any change.

I'm still signed off work until end of March because of the fatigue and my mental health has suffered this year dramatically and I'm suffering panic attacks and anxiety.  My boss wants me to fill in a form to formally request that I reduce my hours to the 3 days I said I wanted to start back on and whether this is permanent. 

As yet I dont know how I will feel when I start back and not sure if I will be able to do the 40hrs but I dont want to shoot myself in the foot by backing anything permanent 

What are my rights about phasing back to work and can I still be signed off and try to get back to work?

Do I legally have to fill it out?

  • Hi ,

    Thank you for your question. I hope you're finding the Community to be a source of comfort and support.

    I'm posting here to let you know that the Work Support team will post an answer to your question tomorrow morning, as they've been unable to respond today.

    In the meantime, if you wanted to reach out for some support, we have a non-hodgkin lymphoma group here on the Community where you can talk to others who may have gone through something similar. I hope this helps to show you that you are not alone, and there's lots of support available for you. 

    Best wishes,

    Macmillan Community Team

  • Hi ,

    Thank you for contacting us about your work situation. It sounds as though you have been managing a lot with the emotional side effects of treatment and the added stress of needing further scans.

    I am glad that you have already discussed phasing back in to work, building up your hours and duties over a period of time in order to build your resilience, confidence and strength. Your rights as a person affected by cancer allow you to ask for changes such as a phased return as reasonable adjustments. You have this right because your cancer diagnosis means that you are considered to have a disability under the Equality Act 2010 or Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Northern Ireland).

    The protection from the Equality Act 2010 or the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 is lifelong and does not depend on an active cancer diagnosis. In addition to your employer having a duty to make reasonable adjustments they should not discriminate against you because of your cancer or treat you less favourably than someone without a cancer diagnosis. Employers should also make sure policies and practices do not put disabled people at a disadvantage.

    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 do not need to cause a change in your contract unless the reasonable adjustment is one that you can see being permanent.

    You can request a reasonable adjustment in the workplace, providing you can relate it back to your cancer. Example of reasonable adjustments that could help you to manage the fatigue, panic attacks and anxiety could range from a phased return over a number of weeks to lighter duties or working from home. 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.

    As you are thinking about starting back at work on a phased return with initially reduced hours, I suggest that you make a request in writing for this as a reasonable adjustment to help you cope with your job. I have attached a link to Equality Advisory and Support Service template letters that you can use to request reasonable adjustments (entitled “Request to make Reasonable Adjustments”). You can include suggestions about other adjustments you need too. It may help to support your request with medical evidence from your doctor, such as a Fit Note that lists the adjustments you need. If you are a member of a union you could ask your union representative to support you in doing this. You could use this template letter instead of the form that your manager has asked that you fill in as the request is slightly different. Your employer 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 when you are ready to return. This may include details about the structure of the phased return and how frequently it should be reviewed. This way, if you are feeling that you have reached your limit of working hours before reaching your contracted 40 hours this can then be discussed in more detail. 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.  

    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. 

    As you are not sure when you want to start back at work, it is important to ensure that you are returning when you feel ready to do so and to make sure that the right support is in place for you; otherwise your return to work can be a daunting prospect. Again, a conversation about your return is something that you could have with your GP. 

    I hope this advice helps you to plan a successful, supportive return to work.

    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.