My saved pages
Lorraine is a nurse specialist and sex therapist and here to answer your questions...
Dear all,I live and work in Dorset and looking for legal help to look at my situation and get advice confirming if I have a case or not against my employer who has spent all their time forcing me out of my job of 30years since being diagnosed with cancer. If I do nothing I will be sacked at the end of July, my union have been of little help I would really like to talk with an expert In company law as my last chance before my employment is terminated. I am willing to pay but I want an expert as the help I have experienced so far has not been very good and left me feeling alone and insecure against the might of corporate HR professionals.
Before you spend lots of cash on a lawyer, have you tried calling the Macmillan helpline? They might be able to give you some advice. You can reach them 9 am to 8 pm on weekdays at 0800 808 0000 They have a lot of experience with helping people to understand their employers legal obligations.
Barbara's suggestion is well worth taking. Macmillan gave me advice on the same sort of situation that you describe. They also arranged for me to meet, face to face, one of their people who specialised in the subject, although I'm not sure if he was employed or a volunteer. We only spoke informally and I was given a few useful pointers, not representation.
In your profile you say you have not been protected by your union. You are covered by the Equality Act as cancer is classified as a disability and I wonder if your union reps are aware of that fact? Mine were, but lots aren't. There may be agreements in place that have been agreed between your employer and your union but those agreements cannot ignore the law of the land. If they were negotiated a long time ago they might need updating, but old agreements cannot override your current rights. There will always be individual factors that come into play, such as the type of work you do, and you'll find there's a lot of use of the word "reasonable" - for example: " reasonable adjustments".
Just as you might have to educate your reps about cancer being a disability and the fact you have rights, you might also end up having to educate a solicitor about the nature of your job in order to get a good appraisal of your legal position so that he or she can decide whether or not the way you are being treated could be deemed "reasonable".
This page, Work And Cancer - Information for employees, explains what rights you have, or should have and will hopefully help you, but still call the Macmillan help line number.
All the best
Hi Gang, Thanks for the replies, after my meeting today at work it appears my employer does not realise I am now a registered disabled person, how do you officially notify your employer that you are disabled and covered by the disability discrimination act 1995 ?
Have you ever given your employer a "Fit Note" from your doctor that states the reason you are unfit for work is due to cancer? The word your doctor uses might not be "cancer" but it could equate to "cancer". If you're in doubt you should check with your GP.
If it turns out that you definitely have, then your employer cannot say they never knew you had a recognised disability and even the smallest employer should know the legal position when they've been told.
As far as I know the old Disability Discrimination Act (the DDA) was superseded by the Equality Act 2010 and the protection given to individuals in a variety of areas was strengthened, not watered down. If your employer really doesn't know the legal position refer them to these two links: ACAS - Disability Discrimination and ACAS - Disabiflity discrimination: key points for the workplace.
You should be getting some help with this. I thought you said you were in a union (?) Have you explained everything to them and asked them for help? Alternatively, did you phone the Macmillan helpline for advice?
It's hard enough exercising your rights all on your own when you're completely fit, but it's even harder when you're not.
I hope you manage to sort things.
I am sorry you are being put in this very difficult position. Jim is absolutely correct, the Equality Act 2010 applies to people with cancer and this places the onus on employers to make reasonable adjustments at your place of work to allow you to continue to work if that is what you want. The reasonable adjustments can include regular rest breaks, easy access to toilets, a bit of flexibility with deadlines and any other sensible arrangements. I think that the employer doesn't have to make every possible adjustment if it doesn't meet business needs or is difficult to do but they have to be able to demonstrate that any adjustment which is declined would have a serious impact on them.
I had a prostatectomy in July 2015 and before I went back to work I saw an occupational health doctor (through my employer although I think if you're employer doesn't have access to one your GP should be able to arrange an appointment through the NHS).
The OH doctor wrote a report on my situation and made suggestions about easy access to toilets, an early finish one day a week, flexibility with deadlines and a recommendation I do not work more than my contracted hours (although I still do that to an extent)
Ultimately I don't think these recommendations are legally binding (worthy checking) but if an employer fails to attempt to address things within the equality act they can be taken to task on this as they can be falling outside the equality act requirements.
Macmillan do have really good guides for employers and employees. It might be worth printing the employer guide out and presenting it to your HR people. It can focus minds.
I don't claim to be an expert in all this but I have had to engage with the literature etc. as a result of prostate cancer.
I wish you all the best and hope you can resolve matters,
Really good advice, you have given me the confidence to pursue this further with my employer, thanks again.
depending on your age, you may be better to let them sack you then hit them with a claim for discrimination.
If you have any questions about Macmillan, or would like to talk to someone about cancer, we have a team of experts who can help.
© Macmillan Cancer Support, registered charity in England and Wales (261017), Scotland (SC039907) and the Isle of Man (604). A company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales company number 2400969. Isle of Man company number 4694F. Registered office: 89 Albert Embankment, London SE1 7UQ.