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Your employer or human resources department will be able to give you information about your organisation’s sickness policy and how much paid and unpaid time off| you’re entitled to.
Most employers are willing to make changes to duties and working hours to enable employees with cancer to continue working if they want to. They usually understand that this is a stressful time and do their best to be supportive. However, some employers who haven’t had experience of supporting an employee with cancer may find it difficult to understand what is needed.
If you tell your manager that you have cancer, but you don’t want any of your colleagues to know, then your manager should respect your wish for privacy. They should only discuss this information with other people if you give them permission.
Union representatives and the human resources department should also respect your wish for privacy. Occupational health staff are bound by the confidentiality of all health professionals and won’t tell anyone about your illness without your written permission.
If you want your colleagues to know about your cancer, but don’t feel able to tell them yourself, then your employer or human resources department may be able to do this for you in a sensitive way.
We have information for employers that gives advice about how to deal with cancer and cancer-related issues in the workplace.
Some people may find it hard to talk to their manager about cancer and the problems or concerns it’s causing for them at work. You may feel it would help to ask someone at your workplace to be your ‘buddy’ or mentor.
Choose someone you’re comfortable with or perhaps someone who has had cancer themselves. This arrangement would need to be agreed between you, your mentor and your managers.
The Access to Work programme| can help if your cancer affects the way you do your job. It provides advice and support to people and their employers to meet the additional costs that may arise because of a long-term health condition. For example, the scheme may pay for special aids and equipment needed in the workplace as a direct result of your condition; travel to work if you can’t use public transport; or a support worker. Centres can be found at gov.uk| Alternatively, ask the disability employment adviser at your local Jobcentre|.
There is a similar programme of the same name in Northern Ireland. Visit nidirect.gov.uk| to find more information.
We have more information for employers and line managers on how to support members of staff with cancer. You can download our Working Through Cancer buddy scheme template [Word document, 96kb], |which may also be useful.
Content last reviewed: 1 May 2011
Next planned review: 2013
For answers, support or just a chat, call the Macmillan Support Line free (Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm)
If you have any questions about cancer, need support or just want someone to talk to, ask Macmillan.
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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