Unsupportive employer, don't know what to do


Blimey Ninja, that really is so disrespectful and hurtful and just plain difficult. I really thiink people simply can’t imagine and don;t want to imagine how devestating the treatment and psychological impact of this illness is and they just don’t even try to think about it (until it happens to someone close perhaps)…maybe we were the same before our diagnosis…anyway , I’m wondering what help you can get and from who? I feel like maybe you need an advocate to speak up for your right to the discretionary further continued sick pay…CAB? I have a friend who is an independent HR consultant so maybe someone like that, but then they would cost I guess.
BTW my OH is an Onc and when we asked for her to go on reduced hours through my chemo (her usual is 65 -70 hour week and we wanted to reduce that to the shocking level of 40!!) her HR, in the Oncology dept, waited until the last legal day ie waited 28 days from request to agree her reduced hours and then guess what, her reduced pay was sorted immediately, no month long wait for that one!
best wishes Nicola

Hi Ninja

I really feel for you and your situation as I am in similar circumstances. My employer does not pay sick pay at all and so I knew I would drop to SSP immediately, very stressful as we tried to work out our money over the next few months.

We have no dedicated HR or Oc Health and so I gave my manager a copy of the BCC Employ booklet before I had my op and I think this helped to pave the way for how I have been treated.

I think ladies with BC are covered by the Disability and Discrimination act and your employer must make reasonable adjustments. I was lucky in that I have been able to have my computer at home set up so that I can access work from home and have arranged to do part time hours that fit in with my treatment. I get paid my hourly rate for this work and submit a time sheet and so that helps a little with the finances, it also means I continue to have a presence at work even though it is from a distance and continue to connect with my work colleagues.

I also got the BC Counsellor and my consultant to write to them confirming this was OK and that also there is evidence that people who work through their treatment have a better recovery and I think this also helped.

I know that you are quite a away down the line with this and certainly you are being treated in a very insensitive and uncaring way but if you give them a copy of the BCC booklet this may still help and also signal to them that you know your rights without being confrontational.

Would you be able to arrange a visit with them (they may be prepared to come to you) so that you can discuss this face to face or do you have a work colleague who would buddy you in a meeting with them?

This is a very difficult situation for you and I hope that you can sort things out as the added emotional trauma is the last thing you need as you battle this horrible disease.

Love DaisyGirl xx

Ninja, I think this is definitely a time to give the helpline a ring. They will have dealt with a lot of people, whereas we’re just single individuals.

It might be worth you getting hold of the EMPLOY charter (think that’s what it’s called) and sending it to your HR and possibly your boss, but have a talk with the helpline beforehand, they may have some better suggestions.

It’s possible your manager has just hidden his or her head in the sand and simply doesn’t know what to say to you so doesn’t say anything. (It’s a bit like telling your boss you have what they might euphemistically call “women’s problems” if you’re booked in for some gynaecological examination, if it’s a bloke they will often run a mile.)

Hey Ninja, that’s dreadful and I’m sorry you have to put up with such treatment. I second what everyone has said and I know that we are definitely covered by the Disabilty and Discrimination act should it come to that. I’m blessed with fantastic employers who have been incredibly supportive even though I only started with them in September; after six years as a manager you deserve heaps more respect and I hope you start to get it
Angry on your behalf

Ninja, Your HR sound completely useless. It’s so hard for you as you’re now sick and vulnerable and not able to fight for yourself as you usually would. You also have the fear of upsetting the apple cart and your future employment with the firm. As they’re so useless I would do everything in writing so that you have a proper record, either by post or email. Make sure HR know that you’re doing this and that should ring alamrm bells for them and make them pull their socks up. It also means you can really consider your words and the issues you’re having.
State in you email that you expect an answer to all your questions within a timeframe, whatever you decide is reasonable and I think after so long 3 working days is reasonable. Make no threats ust clear statements and clear questions that require an equally clear answer. Sometimes the most useless manager in the company is shoved into HR. This may be the case here.

The one time I had problems when I was working, I was chair of our site council and was upsetting the apple cart, I had an interview with HR and took a colleague in with me as support and a witness. I was being treated very aggressively, I stuck it for a while and then said I was being bullied. It must have been a magic word as her attitude from that second completely turned around.

I wish you luck, you shouldn’t have to deal with this on top of everything else.

Awwwww Ninja that is just *so* horrible and uncompassionate. Not even a bloody bunch of flowers! Miserable s*ds.
You may expect that in a massive corporate environment where you’re just a number but in a small business??! No.


The Equality Act 2010 is the law that covers this, and yes, cancer is automatically counted as a Disability and therefore you have a right to be treated with the same respect that everyone else enjoys, and given proper adaptations and information etc.
Them refusing to give you key info on money is a sign that they are breaking the Equality Act laws. Might be worth writing to remind them of this.
Ann x


I have attached a link to BCC’s Employ Charter for Employers in case you would like to pass this onto your boss.


June, moderator


I was lucky & had a very supportive line manager; luckily my treatment didn’t include chemo; so apart from recovery time for surgeries & rads I worked inbetween.

In case I needed a back up I got hold of a good booklet I think from the Macmillan site. Basically an employers guide to the Equality Act which replaced the old Disability descrimination Act. Written for employers to help them understand their responsibilities for staff with cancer.

They are required to make reasonable adjustments.

Take care

In my experience the biggest companies have up to date HR departments and the small ones pay lip service and don’t really know what they should be doing.

I think that’s true of small companies to a certain extent. However, I was offered a job at my local college when I still had 3 Herceptin treatments to go and both the HR dept and the line manager I had were appalling so I left after a month in the job. The HR manager admitted to me over the phone that they had not had experience of anyone returning to work after a serious illness like BC. I was totally up front with them at the interview and they had 6 weeks after offering me the job to get the agreed training and support into place. It just never happened and they accused me of not asking for any support. To add insult to injury they paid me another months salary after I left and wrote to me asking for a cheque to repay it. Talk about giving me stress.

Hi Ninja, some employers really are the pants aren’t they? I work for a major American corporation (14 years as an accountant and project manager), with excellent sick pay arrangements etc. but my manager has been a complete arse! like you, card, flowers - don’t make me laugh - a HR department that did not even reply when I told them about my bc and treatment plans (they are in Holland), and a long battle to get the point where I am now, and able to work part-time from home. I had to push for a meeting to discuss everything, putting it in writing to my manager and the HR department to get that far. I did send my manager the Employ charter - he told me he found it “interesting” but still hasn’t spoken to me on a one-to-one basis for more than an hour in total since I started chemo in March! Not a lot of help, but thought you might like to know you are not the only one!
It is awful that you have to do all of the work to sort things out - it is stress that you don’t need. I hope that you can get some kind of resolution with your company and can work something out to find a way forward with them.
Best wishes Sue xxx

Hi would love to respond but quite unable to. Diagnosed this week with PTSD main causes HR and ATOS. Back at work F/T loads of bullying from HR and manager.Work in NHS ha ha Too tired to move J

post deleted

I’m NHS too, and was put on a sickness warning 3 days before my first surgery at 7am after a night shift. Complained to the big boss later, and was told it was ‘to support you and make sure you don’t slip through the net’. Spin, spin, spin.
Lots of love Ninja and Libby, thinking of you

Norberte many thanks and bubble trouble so sorry to hear that your support was so rubbish too.Ninja ((Hugs ))) so much for the Equaality Act hey ??
Love to all J xx


I feel very sorry for you having trouble with your employer.
During and after my treatment the company i worked for made my life hell.
I was very lucky that i had a good contract that gave me 6 months normal wages when i was off sick.
My male boss who was a ****!! told me that breast cancer was a bad disability to have !!
On my first day back my boss told me that he had not put any health and safety in place and if i did not leave the building he would call the police to escourt me away.
I was so upset with it all,to be treated like that.
After all i had been through with the cancer treatment it was hard work.I made sure i got all my holidays he owed me.
I have now changed jobs.
Are you in a union that could help you ?
ACAS might be able to give you advice.
Do you have any legal cover on your household insurance,you can on some policies get some free legal employment advice.
I hope you get things sorted out. xx

Davida you can sue an (ex-)employer for constructive dismissal if their behaviour contributes to you having to leave a job, even if they make it appear you are leaving voluntarily, and you can still do this after you have left, I don’t know how long after. The sources you just mentioned - union, ACAS, CAB and household insurance legal cover would all be able to help with this. You are not after getting your job back (although I think that is one potential outcome but usually not worth fighting for) just some extra money, compensation in lieu of hurt feelings, disrupted career, possible loss of earnings .etc.

re: Your male boss saying “breast cancer was a bad disability to have” LOL, as if you chose it on purpose. But not as bad as his sheer stupidity, that’s a real bad disablilty, especially for a manager. Was there any special reason {apart from the stupidity} that he had failed to get the necessary H&S adaptations in place in good time? I’m wondering why he thought it was particularly bad - i can think of several far worse disabilities from the employment point of view, (eg a bus-driver losing her sight) unless of course you work as a strip-girl…?!!