"Declaring" disability

Any legal eagles out there can clarify something. Our HR department seems to think that it is the responsibility of the employee to “declare” themselves a “disabled person” on account of the BC and if they haven’t done that they can’t invoke the DDA for support and reasonable adjustments when coming back to work. I suspect that’s not true…and anyway is telling them you had cancer not enough? How are you supposed to know how “disabled” you’re going to be when you’ve never done this before and don’t know how you’ll manage at work?

Hi Catkin,

I am no legal eagle - but this page may answer your question



Hi Catkin

As long as HR are aware preumably through medical certificates that you have cancer then you are automatically covered by DDA. You do not have to write to them and delare yourself disabled. if you have not returned to work yet your manager should be arranging ameeting to discuss with you what might be a sutiable retun to wotk pattern to ease you back into work and whether there are issues that might need to be taken into account such as fatigue, lymphodema etc where other adjustments may need to be made either permanent ot on temporary basis.

Err on the cautious side, as you say you are not always going to know how you are going to cope on return. It is not just the physical but also the emotional side of returning to work.

You need to try to establish a good relationship with your manager to be able to discuss how things are going. If you are on any ongoing treatment this may also need to be taken into account as you may not know how the side effects will be for you. These are not always apparent at the beginning and may come at a later date.

Happy to discuss further if necessary.

Hope this helps

Flora x

i got a really useful booklet on cancer and work from cancer Backup. Macmillan also have good information on this. It will tell you all about your rights under the DDA and your employers responibilities. Some employers still talk about being “registered” disabled and this could be where the confusion comes from. There is no requirement or provision for anyone to register disabled, and has n’t been for a long time. Your employer knows your status as you have provided them with sick notes so they now have a responsibility towards you as a disabled person.


Hi they know that you are disabled, it doesn’t matter that you haven’t declared it in a particular way. It is information that the organisation knows about so you are covered by the DDA and they will need to make reasonable adjustments. I work in HR (recently diagnosed with BC). Would probably be helpful for you to access “Access to Work” (DWP/Jobcentre +) who can help assess for any equipment etc, and will pay for a lot of it as well, with a smaller contribution from your employer. We have had had chairs (that support backs etc to avoid additional complications) and voice recognition software (to avoid problems with arms etc)to help the initial return to work. Anyway most reasonable adjustments are free or very cheap and HR or more particularly your manager needs to work with you on this. Best of luck.

I may have got this wrong but I think as long as you tell any colleague that you have a disability, you have declared yourself disabled to the company or institution. I think your HR may need to wise up a bit.
Flora makes some good points re working relationships, so worth trying to discuss this as amicably as poss.

Oops just seen previous post, getting the right advice there.

they do need to wise up a bit. to quote a manager, “oh, well, if you’re going to play the disability…” he just stopped himself in time from saying “card”…it’s not a tactic to annoy everybody actually, it’s a legal right…

Can i suggest the bcc booklet EMPLOY, it is excellent and its also worth getting a copy to give to your manager and Hr dept on your return to work.

Although saying that as you all may know i have recently been sacked from my job, but then again nothing would have helped my manager understand the difficulties bc can leave you with.

I am interested to discover from the NHS pensions website that the NHS “does not have” data on how many employees consider themselves to have a disability. is there not some sort of statutory requirement for employers to collect that information?

have just had meeting with my hr been tld that even though sick note till sept 30 must by 3 aug take my holidays for 3wks then retirn to work or take alifestye break or be dimissed thru chemo then radio felt posiitive but nw feel at rock bottom

Hi Ali

I am posting a link below which will take you to our publications order page, here you can download our EMPLOY publication under the heading ‘financial and practical advice’, there is also a copy you can give to your employer setting out your rights. If you wish to talk your concerns through in confidence please call our helpline on 0808 800 6000 Mon-Fri 9-5 or today 9-2:


Hope this is useful for you.

Best wishes

Ali 46

you need to consult a citizens advice bureaux urgently, a lifestyle break???are they kidding? That is outrageous. They can point you to local solicitors who can clarify your situation and you can probably have a free initial consultation. Dont go it alone.


OK folks, next question. my Occ Health dept are trying to say that I was covered by DDA when I came back to work two years ago, but no longer am (not on any Rx but still attending hospital for checks.) On my reading of the DDA it looks as though that isn’t true, you’re still covered for a qualifying condition even though you’ve been treated. (They’re trying to justify telling me I don’t have a job any more without having dismissed me, made me redundant or redeployed me…)


This is a quote from the macmillan cancer site (macmillan.org)

"Under the Disability Discrimination Act, it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a person because of their disability. Everyone with cancer is classed as disabled under the DDA and so is protected by this Act.

The DDA covers workers who were disabled in the past, even if they are no longer disabled. For example, a worker who had a cancer in the past that has been successfully treated and is now ‘cured’ will still be covered by the DDA. So, their employer must not discriminate against them for a reason relating to their past cancer. "

So it is clear that you are alway covered under DDA.

Good luck with your employer!


I have the same problem, my line manager ignored me while I kept saying that I am disabled, and indeed she laughed and said “you are not disabled!”, took me eight months and had to involve a senior manager to have a second OHS referral. To be fair, it took me some time to admit to myself that indeed cancer had a devastating impact on my life, I thought I could just resume being myself (the self I was before), and after all I did carry on working throughout treatments. But the person I am now has got pain, tiredness, chemo brain, menopausal symptoms, tests to be carried out every six months, and when my line manager changed, I was just discriminated against. She had the nerve to zay that she too woild get a “boob job” some day… As if having two mastectomies compares in any way! It sucks.