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Do I have to tell my employer I have cancer?

In this Q&A, employment law specialist, Ronan, gives advice on the pros and cons of informing an employer of your illness and treatment.

‘I’ve just been diagnosed with cancer. Based on what I've been told by my consultant, I’m confident the treatment will be successful, but I’ll need to take time off work for chemotherapy. Do I have to tell my employer about my diagnosis and why I need some time off?’

 

Which? employment solicitor, Ronan, says:

Your health is a private matter and you're not obliged to inform your employer about your diagnosis. However, due to your diagnosis with cancer you'd be treated as a disabled person under the Equality Act 2010, which means your employer will have additional duties and obligations to you. This will include a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments, which may include allowing you time off work for treatment. However, if your employer doesn't know about your condition, or ought to know, then their duties under the Equality Act will not kick in. 

 

'If I do ask for time off but my employer refuses what can I do if anything?'

Your employer can’t refuse you time off for treatment. However, you may not be entitled to paid time off – this will depend on the terms of your employment contract. Your employer may request (written) evidence about the diagnosis and details of time off needed for any treatment and recovery. Your doctor or treatment team should be able to provide this evidence.

 

'Will I have to go back to work full-time after the treatment?'

If you are fit enough to do so you can return to work full-time but if the medical advice to you is that you should have a phased return to work and/or possibly reduced hours and duties this should be discussed with your employer as possible reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act.

 

Does this issue affect you and need more advice? You can talk confidentially to our employment specialists by calling 01992 822 828.

 

 

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