Cancer reasonable adjustments

A person is deemed to be disabled as soon as they are diagnosed with cancer.

Which barriers are you likely to face at work?

Having cancer or being treated for cancer is likely to affect many aspects of your working practice because of the significant effect of extreme tiredness and fatigue.
Your symptoms will depend on where the cancer is, how big it is and how much it affects the organs and tissues. Below are some of the known symptoms of cancer:

  • Back and stomach/intestinal;
  • Fever;
  • Extreme tiredness;
  • Weight loss;
  • Dizziness; and
  • Nagging cough or hoarseness.

Below are some of the likely side effects of chemo and radiation therapy:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mouth sores
  • Insomnia
  • Skin rash

What kind of adjustments may be considered?

Macmillan (the charity) recommends the following adjustments for workers with cancer:

  • Allowing a phased return to work;
  • Allowing time-off to attend medical appointments;
  • Modifying a job description to remove tasks that cause particular difficulty;
  • Being flexible about working hours;
  • Offering the option to work from home;
  • Maintaining contact – staying in touch;
  • Allowing extra breaks at work;
  • Adjusting performance targets;
  • Providing easy access to the workplace in the case of mobility issues;
  • Providing disabled toilet facilities; and
  • Changing the date or time of an interview if it coincides with a medical appointment.


Mrs X, who is Head of Early years, has undergone surgery to remove a cancerous tumour. Her oncologist has advised her that she can return to work in two months’ time but only if she undertakes limited duties for at least three months on her return. After explaining this to her head teacher, it is agreed that Mrs X will undertake her usual management responsibilities on her return but that a temporary teacher will be appointed to cover her classroom duties for six months and that this arrangement will be reviewed after five months to determine whether it is aiding her recovery.

Further information:

Macmillan Cancer Supprt.

Reasonable adjustments

Reasonable adjustments are primarily concerned with enabling disabled workers to remain in or return to work.

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