Looking for a new job

Looking for a new job after cancer treatment can be a positive part of your recovery. You may decide to return to the kind of work you did before, but with a different employer. Or you may want a change of career.

Some employers may describe themselves as Disability Confident. This is a government scheme that encourages employers to participate by recruiting and retaining Disabled people and people with health conditions.

When preparing your CV or completing an application form, draw attention to your skills and experience rather than focusing on gaps in your employment.

Applying for a job in England, Scotland and Wales

You may wonder whether you have to tell a new employer you have or have ever had cancer. If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, the Equality Act 2010 covers this. It says that the company you are applying to can ask about disability, but they must follow the law.

For example, they can:

  • check whether you need any reasonable adjustments to be able to attend the interview – for example, having your interview in a ground floor room or having a break during the interview
  • ask you to complete an equality and diversity form – to keep this confidential, you should not be asked to put your name on the form, and anyone on the interview panel or deciding who gets the job should not see this
  • ask questions to make sure they hire people from a range of different groups, such as Disabled people– this is called positive action
  • ask if you are able to do something that is an essential part of the job.

An employer can ask you about your health after you have been offered the job. But if an employer takes away a job offer because of what you have told them about your health, they must have a reason for this that does not discriminate against you.

They also have to think about any reasonable adjustments they could make to allow you to do the job.

Applying for a job in Northern Ireland

If you live in Northern Ireland, employers can ask applicants about their health. But the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 says they cannot discriminate against you because of your disability.

Answering questions about your health

Questions related to disability must not be used to discriminate against a Disabled person.

If you are asked questions about your health, it may be best to be honest 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 the employer about the cancer, you may be able to bring a discrimination claim against them.

You may not consider yourself to be Disabled. But under the Equality Act and the Disability Discrimination Act, having or having had cancer is considered a disability. These laws are there to protect your rights and help make sure you are treated fairly.

Preparing for an interview

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 Disabled people 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 Plus for information about getting support.

About our information

  • Reviewers

    This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been approved by Michelle Rouse Griffiths, Professional Development and Knowledge Lead, Macmillan Cancer Support.

    Our cancer information has been awarded the PIF TICK. Created by the Patient Information Forum, this quality mark shows we meet PIF’s 10 criteria for trustworthy health information.

The language we use

We want everyone affected by cancer to feel our information is written for them.

We want our information to be as clear as possible. To do this, we try to:

  • use plain English
  • explain medical words
  • use short sentences
  • use illustrations to explain text
  • structure the information clearly
  • make sure important points are clear.

We use gender-inclusive language and talk to our readers as ‘you’ so that everyone feels included. Where clinically necessary we use the terms ‘men’ and ‘women’ or ‘male’ and ‘female’. For example, we do so when talking about parts of the body or mentioning statistics or research about who is affected.

You can read more about how we produce our information here.

Date reviewed

Reviewed: 01 September 2023
Next review: 01 September 2026
Trusted Information Creator - Patient Information Forum
Trusted Information Creator - Patient Information Forum

Our cancer information meets the PIF TICK quality mark.

This means it is easy to use, up-to-date and based on the latest evidence. Learn more about how we produce our information.