People who’ve had cancer are 37% more likely to be unemployed than the general population. And yet lots of these people want to return to work when they’re ready, not least for financial reasons. To tackle this issue, Macmillan is providing support to help people return to or stay in their jobs.
Many people living with cancer face unexpected difficulties when returning to work, which can be made worse by a lack of understanding from colleagues and employers. But Macmillan can help them understand their rights and give them the information they need to make good decisions.
Working with cancer
Throughout her whole working life, Helen has been affected by cancer. She says, ‘I’ve had cancer six times since 1991 and each time I’ve been working. Over the past 23 years, I’ve met with a lot of different reactions from employers. On the whole it hasn’t been positive. I’ve even been offered a job, only to be turned down after completing medical forms
‘Some employers don’t know how to deal with a cancer diagnosis – all they can see are long absences from the office. At times, I’ve felt under pressure to perform better than my colleagues and to work longer hours just to prove that I’m capable. I can get very tired but it’s easier than dealing with the financial stress of not working.’
The Equality Act
‘Talking to Alison from Macmillan helped me understand my rights. I hadn’t realised up to that point that cancer is covered by the Equality Act. Understanding my rights gave me the confidence to have a more open discussion with my employer.
‘This meant I could discuss reasonable adjustments, such as flexible working hours, working from home and even more frequent loo breaks.'
Five things you need to know:
1. People affected by cancer are protected from discrimination by the Equality Act 2010 (or the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 if you live in Northern Ireland).
2. Your employer can’t fire or demote you because you have cancer.
3. You can’t be refused a job because you have cancer.
4. If you have cancer, your employer has to make ‘reasonable adjustments’. For example, some employers may let you work flexible hours.
5. Help is available and you can download this free guide about your rights at work.
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