Reasonable adjustments are changes to the workplace or your job. Find out more about how they can allow you to keep working or return to work.

What are reasonable adjustments?

If you are in paid employment and have or have had cancer, your employer should consider making reasonable adjustments to support you.

Both the Equality Act and the Disability Discrimination Act say that your employer must make reasonable adjustments. Your employer must make reasonable adjustments when the workplace or work practices put you at a ‘substantial disadvantage’ because you have cancer. This is compared with colleagues who do not have cancer. The disadvantage has to be ‘more than minor or trivial’.

You do not have to tell your employer you have cancer. But they do not have to make a reasonable adjustment unless they know, or should reasonably know, that you have cancer. For example, if you are behaving differently because of cancer, but your employer does not know you have cancer, it is reasonable for your employer to check whether your behaviour is connected to a disability. They can then ask how they might be able to support you.

There is no fixed description of what a reasonable adjustment should be. It will depend on:

  • how much the adjustment will help you
  • how practical it is to make the adjustment
  • the cost of making the adjustment
  • how the adjustment will affect your employer
  • the size of the company or organisation you work for, and the resources it has.

Your employer should talk with you about possible adjustments. You should be involved in every stage. It is best for both you and your employer to work together.

Our guide to reasonable adjustments is available to download. You could use the guide to help you talk to your employer about returning to work or staying in work.

Examples of reasonable adjustments

The type of reasonable adjustment always depends on the situation. Reasonable adjustments could include:

  • a phased return to work
  • different working hours, such as working part-time, having a flexible start or finish time or working from home
  • giving you time off to go to medical appointments or for rehabilitation
  • changing your job description to remove tasks that are particularly difficult for you
  • allowing you to do light duties for a time
  • moving you to a job with more suitable duties, if you agree
  • changing performance targets to allow for any sick leave and side effects, such as tiredness (fatigue).

Examples of practical adjustments your employer could make:

  • extra breaks to help you cope with tiredness
  • a place to rest away from your desk, if you need to
  • a parking space near your work
  • computer equipment that might help – for example, voice-activated software if you cannot type
  • changing where you work – for example, moving you to a ground floor office if you get breathless
  • making sure you have suitable access if you are using a wheelchair or crutches
  • making sure you can get to the toilet easily.

How we can help

Macmillan Grants

If you have cancer, you may be able to get a Macmillan Grant to help with the extra costs of cancer. Find out who can apply and how to access our grants.

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