When you’re self-employed, other people may rely on you to deliver your goods or services, and to pay for theirs. They may need to know that you have cancer. You’ll have to balance the impact of the cancer and your feelings about telling people with the needs of your business. For example, if the cancer affects your work in any way, your insurance could become invalid if you don’t tell your insurer about it. On the other hand, some people may not need to know, and it’s your choice whether to tell them or not.
While it can be hard to tell people about the cancer, it can mean they’ll be able to give you support, both practically and emotionally. If you can, it may help to take some time to think about the pros and cons of telling people. The following table may help you decide what to do.
|Reasons to tell people about your cancer||Reasons to limit what you say|
|They will understand why you need longer deadlines or more time to pay.||They may worry you are not reliable.|
|You could find them very supportive and get practical help.||You might want privacy, and you can’t guarantee everyone will respect this.|
|It might prevent embarrassing mistakes or misunderstandings on their part.||The conversation might get emotional in situations where it’s not beneficial to you or your business.|
|You might have to tell the other person, because it affects or protects your contract with them.||The other person or organisation might not respect your rights or treat you fairly (see the Equality Act for more information).|
It may help to put yourself in the other person’s place, and try to imagine what their concerns and reactions might be. Then you can be ready with some suggestions or information, which may help deal with any worries they have.
We have a section called talking about your cancer, which you may find helpful.
|Person||What they might worry about|
|Friends or family||Will you be okay? How can I help?
That’s a shock. What do I say now?
|Customer||Will you be able to do the work? And will it be on time?
Will the work be of the same standard?
What happens if our agreement doesn’t work out?
What are my health and safety responsibilities? (If you work on their premises or are a sub-contractor).
|Supplier||Will you be able to pay me? Will it be on time?
What are my alternatives?
When will things get back to normal?
|Banker or creditor||Can you meet your payments? How? When?
Are you now a higher credit risk?
What are my duties to the bank and my legal responsibilities?
What will happen if you can’t make payments?
What alternative arrangement could be made?
|Employee||Does this mean the business will close down?
Will you be able to pay me?
Will my workload increase or decrease, and can I cope with that?