If a person has cancer, the law considers them to be disabled. This means they cannot be treated less favourably than others because they have cancer. If they are treated less favourably because they have cancer, this is discrimination.
Legislation protects people with cancer from being discriminated against at work because of cancer.
- In England, Scotland and Wales, people with cancer are protected by The Equality Act 2010.
- In Northern Ireland, people with cancer are protected by the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) (as amended).
This legislation doesn’t just protect employees. It also protects people applying for jobs and, in most cases, people who are self-employed.
Carers are also protected from some types of discrimination. See our section about carers for more information.
Which areas of employment are covered by this legislation?
The Equality Act and the DDA cover all areas of employment. This includes:
- the recruitment process
- terms and conditions of employment, and any benefits
- opportunities for promotion and training.
The protection doesn’t end once cancer treatment finishes.
Someone with cancer still has legal protection against discrimination at work, even when there is no longer any evidence of them having cancer. This means employers must not treat people less favourably for any reason related to cancer they’ve had in the past. This protection applies even if they no longer need treatment or they move to another employer.
Both the Equality Act and the DDA say that you have to make reasonable adjustments to the workplace and working practices for employees with cancer. These are required to remove any substantial disadvantage employees face in the workplace because they have cancer.