You may decide that you want a new job. This could be because:
- your priorities have changed, and you are able to work less
- your health means you cannot do the work you did before
- you want or need a less stressful job
- you want to try something new.
You may wonder if you have to tell a new employer you have, or have had, cancer. If you live in England, Scotland and Wales, the Equality Act 2010 covers this. It says that an employer should only ask questions about your health at certain points before offering you a job. These are:
- if they want to make sure they are not discriminating against anyone in their recruitment process
- if they want to make sure they hire people from a range of different groups, such as people with disabilities – this is called positive action
- to check whether you need any reasonable adjustments, for example, having your interview in a ground floor room
- if they need to ask if you can do something that is an essential part of the job.
An employer can ask you for information about your health after they have offered you a job. They must also think about any reasonable adjustments they could make to allow you to do the job.
If they then decide to withdraw the job offer, this must be for reasons that are non-discriminatory.
If you live in Northern Ireland, employers can ask job applicants about their health. But the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 says they cannot discriminate against you because of your disability.
Questions related to disability must not be used to discriminate against a disabled person. In England, Scotland and Wales, a possible employer is only allowed to ask questions about your health or disability for the reasons listed above.
If you are asked questions about your health, it may be best to be open about the cancer. Lying or giving incomplete information could put you in a difficult position later, if your employer finds out.
But this is your decision. If you do not get the job as a result of telling them about the cancer, you may be able to bring a discrimination claim against the employer.
You may not consider yourself to be disabled. But if an employer asks if you are disabled, you should say ‘yes’. This is because cancer is considered a disability under the Equality Act and the Disability Discrimination Act. These laws are there to protect your rights and help make sure you are treated fairly.
Before an interview, think about how you will answer any questions about your health. For example, they may ask you about gaps in your work history. You can explain that you were dealing with some health issues. Be clear that you are now ready and keen to get back to work. Try to focus on the skills and strengths you have.
There are different organisations that can help people with a disability to find work. You can find more information at:
If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, Access to Work can also provide someone to help you at a job interview. It can also help people who are about to start a job.
If you live in Northern Ireland, contact your Jobs and Benefits Office or JobCentre for information about getting support.