Going to work

My wife had just been diagnosed with no small lung cancer that has spread. I have managed to book 3 weeks off work due to hospital appointments etc. Not got a meeting with oncology till next Friday. Where do I stand with getting time off when she starts chemo ect. Any information would help. 

  • Thank you for your query and I am sorry to hear about your wife’s diagnosis. My name is Stacey and I am a Work Support adviser on the Macmillan Support line. I hope that you will find the following advice useful.

    In a work environment, someone that is a carer (and in your case you are caring for your wife) may have some legal rights. An employee who has worked for their employer for more than 26 weeks has a right to formally request flexible working.  (Employment Rights Act 1996 in England, Scotland and Wales and the Employment Rights Order 1996 in Northern Ireland) It should be one written request over a 12 month period. A formal legal request can entail a change in the terms of your contract. However, your request could also be turned down for business reasons. You should be able to appeal against the decision. Your company may have a specific request form for this. Also, your company may have a carers policy that describes any entitlement the company would offer a carer. For example, they may offer a number of days leave of absence and it is important to check this or to discuss with HR. If your company has any allocation of time off carers leave or compassionate leave it is important to check if this will it be paid or unpaid

    A carer who is an employee also has a right to taking time off for an emergency. An example of this would be an unplanned hospital visit or an unexpected incident.

    In answer to your query about planned hospital treatment and appointments, it may be more appropriate to come to a more informal arrangement of flexible working hours as your request is not likely to be a permanent or fixed hours arrangement. . For example, does your company operate any ‘flexi time' or can you make up the lost  hours at another time? – this would ensure that you are paid for it. A company may be more flexible if their employees are able to work from home.

    If this is not possible you will be looking at other alternatives. When you booked your 3 weeks off work it may have been as holiday. If you need to take more days as holiday would it be possible to borrow leave from the following year?

    Sometimes employees decide that they may need a sustained period of time off work and decide to ask for a career break or sabbatical (usually unpaid). Again, your company may have a policy on this subject. It is important to always check the terms and that your contract would be kept open to return to and to ask how any in- work benefits may be affected.

    Some of the information I have described can also be found in the booklet – on this link: “Working Whilst Caring For Someone With Cancer”. There is also a companion book “Questions For Carers To Ask About Work And Cancer” which you may find useful in planning around your partner’s treatment. Knowing when you might be needing to take time off work in the future can help you and your employer plan the best course of action.  

    I hope this gives you the information you were looking for, however if you need any further support then please don't hesitate to either respond to this message, email uschat online with us or you can call us between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday on 0808 808 0000 option 1, then 2, then 3.

    Kind regards,


    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


    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.

  • Thank you, I have ordered both books.