Working During Cancer Treatment

You may need to take time off from work as you are undergoing therapy for cancer. In a study with 63,949 patients with cancer, the average patient missed 18 days out of the year, with an average of four and a half hours per week, to treat side effects.

In addition, cancer-related fatigue can be so severe that it disrupts the ability to do daily activities, let alone work. A person may be unable to perform his or her job during this time.

The company and employee must meet certain requirements to be allowed to have the unpaid time off. The key is to inform your employer and keep them abreast of what is happening and where you are at with your treatment.

The Disabilities Discrimination Act 1992 section 15: The Commonwealth Disabilities Discrimination Act  will not allow employers to discriminate against employees that have a disability, or a health complication that may limit a person’s ability to perform daily activities. By law, from the time that you are diagnosed with cancer, you meet the criteria to be categorised as disabled and the Disabilities Discrimination Act  should provide protection for you. Interpretation of the Disabilities Discrimination Act  is challenging, however. The challenge is determining whether the accommodations will cause hardship to the employer.

Your employer is not allowed to fire you because of your cancer diagnosis or health problems from cancer that disrupt your ability to perform tasks. In addition, your employer could include providing you with a flexible schedule so you can obtain treatment or permitting you to work from home.

Whether you will be provided with accommodations or your job will be protected depends on the nature of your job and the business. If your job can only be performed by you and a temporary employee cannot perform the tasks that you did, or if it would be very costly to the business, then it will be considered a hardship for the business and they will not be required to make accommodations or even keep your job.

Depending on your employer they may permit you to work from home and/or have the flexibility to attend other periodic appointments necessary for medical treatment.