Working with lung cancer

Being diagnosed with lung cancer doesn’t mean you have to stop working. Many people remain in employment and continue to work with lung cancer. The important thing is you do what is best for you and you understand your employment rights.

working when you have lung cancer
Some people who are living with lung cancer can continue to work

If you have lung cancer and are still working, you are likely to have a lot of questions. It’s also understandable to worry whether you will be able to keep working and be fearful about money, particularly if you have a mortgage and/or people who depend on you financially.

By law you don’t need to tell your employer about having lung cancer. However, it may be more practical for you to do so as your employer and colleagues may be able to support you and take your condition into consideration.

Lung cancer is classed as a disability. That means you are covered under the Equality Act 2010 (Disability Discrimination Act 1995 in Northern Ireland) and your employer cannot put pressure on you to resign, nor can they dismiss you.

Managers have a duty of care to their staff and must take reasonable steps to ensure your wellbeing. Having conversations about cancer can be difficult for them and for you, but if you do want to let them know, try to have a conversation early on.

Once your employer knows about your situation, they may need to consider making reasonable adjustments to your work environment, such as providing equipment to help you do your job, a phased return, or changing your working hours.

They will take into account your treatment schedules and fitness and may also allocate to another employee some tasks that you can no longer easily do, or have the time to do.