work problems by TIGGERLESS

Hi all
I have reposted this in here to start a new thread for new user Caroline aka TIGGERLESS.

Best wishes
Breast Cancer Care

Hi, I finished my rads in early Sept. I tried to go back to work p/t basis last week, the stairs were difficult! (I work in an office), the phone systems had changed, as had many other things (all mid air at the moment), the boss was difficult and seemed indifferent to my situation - I requested a gradual increase in working hours (and no home phone calls from colleagues when I have been in work that morning) and possible do a half day at home too…I received a letter 2 days later…No I can’t work from home, he could see no reason why I cant take work related phone calls at home, and don’t come back until I am are fully fit…I have been there for 14 years, I then received phone call requesting me on a day course in a weeks time! I feel totally lost and am looking for new job…I am scared that I wont be able to take on a new job let alone do the one I already have. I need to know there is a light at end of tunnel and its near! I cannot afford NOT to work, I have a mortgage and now live on own. Any suggestions to get me out of what feels like a big black hole.
Caroline x

BC is a disability and your employer is required, by law, to make reasonable adjustments. Having a phased return to work makes sense for both you and your employer. If people rush back to their full hours after any long sickness absence, they are more likely to relapse and need more time off. Do you have a human resources manager to talk to? You may also have an occupational health service who can give an expert opinion on the best way to manage your return to work.

I work in HR and I am happy to advise you further. Just private message me if you want to.

Good luck

Hi Caroline, AnneG. has it spot on they have not got a leg to stand on, i have just gone through the same with a company that i worked for for 13years, they came with all the high ideas that i return to work full time, etc etc, you could go to your local C.A.B. they are very clued up on this issue and should help you, please don’t let your employer bully you, get the best advice you can CheersX

that’s shocking the way your employer has treated you. Why should you look for another job when you already have one, the cheek of it !! Get some advice and don’t let them walk all over you.

best of luck
Diane x

Hi Caroline

You can also look on a website: which gives info on protection at work. It also covers information on the Disability Discrimination Act. I also used to be an HR manager and you should have a phased return to work as Anne says. They are in danger of discriminating you under the Disability Discrimination Act if they’re not careful. Although you are not technically registered as ‘disabled’ you are protected under the above act against any discrimination not only in a work environment but also in education and housing situations.

They also have to make ‘reasonable’ adjustments (if necessary) to your work environment although this is a very grey area as ‘reasonable’ has many connotations!

cancerbackup have a great pamphlet on your rights in the work place and what your boss etc should be doing to help you. Check on their website or give them a call.

As if life wasn’t hard enough…?

Jacki xx

hi there
i wonder if it might help to ask your GP to put on your return to work sick note that you should return on reduced hours in a phased return…some GPs are happy to do this although won’t go any further with advice to you employer. They may know where you an access a vocational rehabilitation team with an occupational therapsit who can support you in a phased return increasing your work in a graded way that helps you regain strenght and confidence.

Also, perhaps you might wish to send a letter to your employer formally requesting a graded return to work, suggesting what this might be, timescales etc. I was exhausted after rads and my GP suggested I went back for half days Mon, Wed and Fri for a couple of weeks, then full M. W, F for couple of weeks before doing a 5 day week…you could point out that this would get you back to the workplace earlier as you are not fit for full-time work just now, assist you in regaining your strength and getting up to speed on any changes etc, and you would hope to be fit for fulltime work again in 4 to 6 weeks. If you are unable to do this I would suggest your GP sign you off for a few weeks more and you get in touch with your Access to Work team at your jobcentre plus who may be able to advise you as you are ‘covered’ by the Disability Discrimination Act. If for example they might do a phased return to work for someone else then you might feel they are discriminating against you…or, if they fail to make a reasonable adjustment for you in terms of your condition, and i think that a phased return to work is not an unreasonable thing to ask, nor is no phone calls at home until you are filly recovered, you could take out a grievance.

Good luck and please do let us know how things go and what resources you find help.

Hi - very interested in this thread. Think it’s awful they are treating you like that.

A lady in my office came back on phased return but had to use her annual leave entitlement ! Surely that’s not right.

I have at least 5 weeks annual leave this year and wonder if I am entitled to take these over to next year (I am hoping to return to work about March/April as on chemo and then 5 weeks radiotherapy and a year of herceptin) and don’t really want to use them for phased return. Would love a holiday! I work for the NHS as a medical secretary and don’t feel I could go back full time with the doctor I work for. He is very nice but demanding and can see me getting stressed.

Liz xx


NHS national terms and conditions allow you to take one week over to the next leave year only. I have been off since April so still have my full 6 weeks to take. I intend to use these weeks towards the end of my time off instead of sick leave, after I finish radiotherapy, as they will be at full pay rather than half pay and I would otherwise lose them anyway.



Its great to know I have support and understanding as this breast cancer thing seems to be a bit of a lonely business! xx thanks…

I have spoken to CAB and I could take things further, They have said I could go for constructive dismissal; which is where I resign and leave a letter making it clear it is due to my bosses behaviour regarding reasonable adjustments (or lack of), this I would do, but at the moment I don’t have the emotional strength for a battle that I am told is difficult to win, and as I now live on my own I have a mortgage to pay etc. I have to support myself and have a full time job to do that;

The CAB suggested I ask the Big Cheese for an ‘informal’ meeting and state clearly my requirements and provide information regarding the DDA - as they feel he may not be aware that I am covered by this - Also I have looked into: Whilst I am considered ‘full time’ by my employer I actually work 6 hours - this means I am not entitled to any breaks… Also I am looking in to my holiday pay entitlement as it depends of WHEN the working year starts within each company. I believe mine is April - April, and as I was on sick leave in June I may not have any holiday entitlement?? - I don’t really know about this - I have written to the company accountant to ask her how much holiday time I am entitled to, I await her reply! - I am thinking of using it as a gradual return to work.

If after the ‘informal meeting’ I feel that things have NOT gone well, I should contact them and they will arrange for me to see their solicitor - they took copies of the two letters he wrote to me and a copy of the letter I sent in reply - I really hope it doesn’t go that far, as it would be very sad after 14 years if it came to that!

One thing I do now know, emotional energy is very draining! - And being REALLY honest about this, I felt so much better when I read your replies, so, BIGGEST of hugs to you all xx Caroline

Hi Tiggerless.I hope you are feeling better.Dont get too stressed or down by this issue of work.I just want to share my case in the last 2 years.I have been with my employer for 10yrs now.I was working 5 days in year 2005 but then i shifted to 3 days a week for my own personal reasons…feeling too stressed and overworked,then we were getting married in 6 months time.3 months after the wedding,i was diadnosed with BC.So i need to go off sick to focus on my BC and treatments.We hava a company Group Protection Insurance,covering long term illness which pays 70% of the latest salary after the 13th week of illness.This helped me to focus on my treatments without the added stress of finding out where & how to pay mortgage & bills.There are medical forms to fill in and my employers also help me to fill in the Government form for Disability,for which you may qualify for allowance…So,whilst i was having my treatments, I was under the Insurance payroll of course no holidays accrued.I returned to work on Mar 2007 after 18mths of absence,without affecting my length of service.I returned to my 3 day working week and salary and holidays are on pro rata.I must say though that my PAYE code allowance had to be reduced so that the govt can claim back the benefit that they gave me when i was ill,spread across the taxable year.My employers had been understanding on the importance of getting through the illness and making sure that I will be the judge of my strengths and limitations as to my recovery period.So far,9months on, I feel im ready to increase my working hours from 22.5 to 28hrs from 1Jan2008.

I hope this helps even just for information.



Hi Rose,
Thanks for that, it was very kind of you - sounds like your employers were very understanding and helpful :o)

Hope the wedding went well :o) best of luck to you both
Well done for reaching the otherside of the tunnel :o))

xx Big hug, Caroline

Hi Caroline,
I hope you find ways and more support regarding your work situation.Read more about on the governent Disability Act as cancer (with chemo & radiotherapy) is covered.

Yes,the wedding was July 2005,2years ago,3months before i was diagnosed last 9nov2005.That was the happiest day of my life.At least I had my big wedding before the Bc has choosen me.Well,it makes us all a stronger and better person after this journey.



Update on work issues:

I mentioned to a co worker that the boss needed to read the DDA information; as it was important for the company and myself that we were aware of the regulations. I am not sure if he read it as he is unwell and not at work - hasn’t been for a few weeks now - However, he did apologise to me via phone and asked if we could wipe slate clean - In the interim I found a position elsewhere, which starts around February/March if I wish to take it - so I now have a feeling of some ‘control’ over my decisions and my life is coming back! - I am due to go back to work in December (I am still waiting to find out if I have any holiday as I have only taken 3 days this year (and they were due to B.C) - I believe its all very individual regarding company regs and I don’t actually have a contract only that I’ve been there 14 years. They are ‘looking into it’ for me and I wait with baited breath! :o)

The very BEST of wishes to you all,

Big hugs,

Hi Carolie

Well,it just shows that when 1 door shuts,another one opens.Now,you have control of your work situation.I think that even if you do not have a contract but it is deemed to have one after 13 weeks probationary period.Either parties can terminate the employment.For it to last for 14 years…its well over the 13 week period.Best to get advice on a Human Resource point of view as to uptodate employment laws.Citizens advice Bureau can perhaps help too.

Take care


Hi Caroline

Just to echo what Rose says, even if you don’t have a written contract, you are still contracted to the company because you have been working there. THey are in breach of the law if they have not issued you with a written record of your terms and conditions. After 14 years, they have to give you 12 weeks notice (maximum statutory amount). You still have all your rights

Good luck
Sharon x

Thanks Everyone,

I am feeling MUCH happier than when I first joined this site with fatigue, sobbing, pain, work problems and my ‘coming to terms’ with life after treatment! My mantra at that time being “I can’t be what people need me to be”

To ANYONE NEW who has just joined and feeling low and confused : - The help and support on here is amazing! I’d recommend it to everyone who is struggling (generally, thats everyone with B.C). There is a light at the end of the tunnel :o)
(It’s now 3 months after my rads and I’m looking forward to Christmas and the New Year - Roll on 2008!).

Love & Best, Caroline xx

Anyone know where I can find the info on carrying leave forward ,albeit only 1 week? I want to have this info when I go to see my employers.

Norma xx


I think you will find that there are no laws on carrying forward holiday. It is down to individual companies to have a policy on what they will allow.

Sharon x

Thanks Sharon . I’ll just go in and give them one of my withering looks!

Norma x