Support from your work

You can get financial help if cancer affects your ability to work:

  • You can claim Statutory Sick Pay if you are off work for at least four days in a row and earn at least £112 a week. Your employer will pay this for up to 28 weeks of sickness.
  • You may also be able to get occupational or company sick pay. Check your contract or ask your HR department about this.
  • If you are self-employed, you may still qualify for benefits, such as ESA or Tax Credits.
  • If you have to give up work, you may be entitled to a tax refund.

In England, Scotland and Wales, the Equality Act 2010 protects your employment rights if you have or have had cancer. In Northern Ireland, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 protects you. These laws will protect you if your employer discriminates you because of your illness.

Sick pay

If you work for an employer and take time off sick, you may be able to get sick pay. This could be:

  • Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) – money that most workers can get if they are off work sick.
  • Occupational or company sick pay – your employer’s own sick pay scheme. If they have one, it will be written into your contract. It may be more generous than SSP. Some employers pay staff in full for a certain amount of sick days.

Your employer will pay you SSP for up to 28 weeks. The weekly amount is currently £89.35. You can claim if you:

  • are off work sick for four days in a row or more (including non-working days)
  • have been earning £113 or more a week for the past eight weeks.

Before your SSP is due to end, your employer should give you a form called SSP1. This form will tell you when the last payment will be. It will also give you information about applying for a benefit called Employment and Support Allowance.

Speak to your manager or HR department to find out what sick pay they offer, and how to claim.

If you are self-employed

If you cannot get sick pay because you are self-employed, you can still apply for other benefits. For example, if your income drops you may be able to get Employment and Support Allowance.

We have more information about self-employment and cancer, which you may find helpful.


Employment rights

Your employer should try to support you at work. They should make reasonable changes to help you keep doing your job during and after cancer treatment.

There are laws that protect you from being treated unfairly at work because of cancer. These are:

  • The Equality Act 2010 in England, Scotland and Wales
  • The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 in Northern Ireland.

These laws do not just protect employees. They also protect people who are applying for jobs and, in many cases, people who are self-employed. Carers are also protected from some types of discrimination.

We have more information about your rights at work when you’re affected by cancer.


Access to Work

Access to Work is a government programme. It can help you or your employer if you have a long-term health condition that affects the way you do your job. It can give advice and practical support to meet extra costs that may be caused by your health condition.

The scheme may pay for:

  • special aids and equipment needed in the workplace as a direct result of your condition
  • travel to and from work if you can’t use public transport
  • a support worker to help you in the workplace.

In England, Scotland and Wales, contact Access to Work to apply. You can also ask to speak to a disability employment adviser at your local Jobcentre Plus.

In Northern Ireland, contact Access to Work (NI) to apply. You can also speak to an employment service adviser at your local Jobs and Benefits or Social Security office.


Income tax refund

You may be able to get a tax refund if you give up work, or if your income decreases. It is also worth checking whether you are still paying the correct amount of tax if your situation changes.

Your employer may be able to organise this. Or you can contact Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs (HMRC).

Back to If you are unable to work or on a low income

Employment and Support Allowance

Employment and Support Allowance is a benefit for people under retirement age who cannot work because of illness or disability.

Income Support

Income Support is a benefit that helps people on a low income pay basic living costs.

Working Tax Credit

Working Tax Credit (WTC) is for people aged from 16 to retirement age who work but have a low income or disability.

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Jobseeker’s Allowance can give you a weekly income if you are unemployed and able to work.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a payment for people who are on a low income or looking for work.