Employment rights

So sorry guys I am sure you are sick to death of some of these questions but I could do with some answers today if possible as I have to go face work after going to see doc in the morning.
It’s gonna be a long one but here goes; I had been off work for 13 months and am on a phased return as I do feel poorly after 3 weekly Herceptin and am taking Arimidex. We agreed that I would do one morning to start back in Oct for the 1st week then I went to two mornings a week which crept up to one full day and two mornings so it has been steady though I still feel rough and get very tearful? I never used to be like this! I was asked to see my boss along with the young woman who has been doing my supervisions as whilst I was was ill we had a ‘Great plan’ of having that once in a lifetime holiday for 6-8 weeks in Aus to see my friend this got whittled down to 6 weeks (we have been friends for over 35 years!) She came to see me during my treatment so we duly started the plan. I made this clear on going back and waited for an answer as hubby has been granted the leave it just need my confirmation. Meeting was to say they cannot sanction the original 6 weeks and I only had two days leave carried over which thanks to you knowledgeable ladies I knew was wrong! I was so bowled over and in shock cos I had so planned this break as our treat if that makes sense so sat and let him tell me that they were happy to have me back but now need to look into doing a temporary lowered hours contract from Feb until I am back up to speed! I did have the common to say I think the leave thing is wrong but was blown away ! It did not register till I got home and rang union who said I was right re leave and it is sheer meanness as the holiday was for my well being as it gave me a focus during all the crap! I blubbered down the phone and haven’t really stopped since!I was also told that phased return means just that I let them know if I can manage more but had a sort of timetable to start back full time mid May as Herceptin finishes end of April. Union chap not happy told me to put it in writing.Meanwhile I receive registered letter saying only allowed 3 weeks hol in one go and they will prepare temporary hours contract from Feb? I already have a full time contract signed two years ago.My question being I know holidays are at discretion and am prepared to take 4 as a compromise but are they allowed to make me sign this contract? I cannot get to union man as letter came yesterday and go in after seeing my doc tomorrow and need to know what to say till I can talk to union again! I so planned for this and feel so let down and have been so tearful all weekend!! Sorry for the length of this I am so upset and don’t really know if I can go on with work as it is a small place and I feel I would have to work in an atmosphere if I make a big fuss! Much appreciate you reading this and hope someone can give me some clarity. Sorry for the ramble Em x
p.s sorry meant to say they did agree I have more hols but only for last year as went off in Aug’10 I think that is wrong too?


Hi Em

I would say your only option at the moment is to politely say that you are not prepared to sign a new contract until you have consulted with your union and ACAS regarding what you feel is contradictory to the Equality Act 2010, as you are protected by this under the protected characteristic of disability,from any unfair treatment, which they must give you time to do. Under Employment Law, your company/organisation cannot change anything in your current contract without due notice, e.g the same amount of notice you have to give if you were leaving there employment. This also means while you are on a phased return they cannot put any pressure on you to change anything. With regard to your annual leave, while you are undergoing any kind of treatment for cancer, you do accrue your leave over all of your absence. I would seriously consider an employment tribunal regarding their unlawful failure to make any reasonable adjustments for you to have an extended break to enhance and assist with your recovery period. Although if it is only a small business and the business would suffer if you were off for those 6 weeks in a particularly busy period, then they may have a contrary argument. It can become complicated and when you’re not a 100% it’s the last thing you need.

It may be that your company are not up to speed with the relatively new Act, there is a really good kit that macmillan do, free of charge, for employers, which is all up to date: macmillan.org.uk/Cancerinformation/Livingwithandaftercancer/Workandcancer/Workandcancer.aspx

Also through the Acas Helpline (08457 47 47 47) you can get advice, and explore alternatives to an Employment Tribunal claim.

Sorry, that is a bit long winded, but I would strongly suggest that you highlight to your employers that the pressure they are putting you under is not helping your recovery and you really want to return to work. Good luck, Simone xx

Hi Simone, thank you so much I have been getting quite anxious about the contract thing! Am going to ring my union and try to get it sorted. Funny really I was so upset yet before all this would have stood my ground! I am such a wuss these days and frankly don’t think I can cope with confrontation. I thought I was right on this but wanted to make sure. Fingers crossed I don’t dissolve in a puddle of tears! Em xxxxx

Em, I thought I was a strong and confident person, and I train police officers and staff in diversity and management, but my confidence has taken a knock with this. I have told my work that until I feel my confidence returning I cannot hold a class, but will assist my colleagues on reduced hours to prep for their courses and I will give assistance and advice on a one to one basis and they have seen this as a reasonable adjustment and are allowing me 12 weeks to see if I can return to normal duties, however if further time is needed this will be reviewed again. Don’t put yourself down as a wuss as it takes a strong person to get through this, but with support and the right treatment, with a little bit of good luck too, often this is achievable and if you do have a weepy moment, so what it’s all part of the process, take care and don’t be so hard on yourself as you are what’s important xxx

Don’t start me off! Being shown a kindness starts me off! I used to work with adults with learning difficulties and teach sign language ,first language as parents were deaf . Funny they never made me cry, laugh often but this is so scary as it was said and done ‘in a caring way’! What a job to have and how supportive they are, I bet you have some funny times too! I bet the women on here could write some amazing books ! Can you imagine it? Have been contributing to the ‘Where did I go?’ Thread and it dawns on me I am so far away from who I was that yes as you say my comfidence has done a runner! Take care Em xxx