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Work and cancer

  • 4 conversations

Et Tu Brute !

Started by Anonymous on 21 April 2017 at 10:06

I was diagnosed with stage 2a Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma at the beginning of the year. Treatment (which started on 22nd February) consists of 3 cycles of R-CHOP Chemotherapy (completed 1 week ago) followed by Radiotherapy (due to start on 15th May for 3 weeks). Before treatment started I was working for a small Property Management company run by a "friend". We had a long and frank discussion about what lay ahead for me. Being conscientious, I was worried about taking time off during treatment but my boss (I'll use the pseudonym 'Bob') reassured me that all would be OK. As a matter of fact he suggested taking as much time as I needed (his words: "a month or so") and concentrate on the battle that lay ahead of me. It therefore came as a bolt out of the blue when a few weeks ago I received my P45 and a covering letter stating that my fixed term contract had come to an end with effect from the 31st March ! No warnings, no emails, no telephone calls, no face to face conversations; just a letter effectively saying I was no longer needed or wanted. Unfortunately, I had no written contract so I may have difficulty seeking any form of compensation. My immediate concern is to finish treatment and to try not to stress out too much. If my treatment is successful I will be looking to get back into employment although not necessarily with my former employer. How could I ever trust someone who has betrayed me in the worst possible way ? Has anyone found themselves in a similar situation and if so how did you deal with it ? Best Regards, Scott x

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  • Picture of Tombenefits
    From Tombenefits  
    21 April 2017 at 15:31
    Edited on: 21 April 2017 at 15:33

    Hi Scott,

    As the Centre's Benefits Advisor, I am not allowed to use language, but it does seem appropriate. Is that 'Bob' with a blackadder emphasis :-) ?

    I am a benefits specialist rather than an employment one, so it certainly seems worth talking this over with one. Your local Citizens Advice can give initial advice and be able to suggest more specialist support. You can find your local one from the page here.

    In general terms, though, it is indeed worth retracing all evidence of your employment, whether written down as in the legally required statement and terms and conditions or in the 'custom and practise' of day to day admin of payslips and P60s etc. But even purely verbal contracts are legally enforceable too.

    Did you ever have a clear understanding that this was a fixed term contract? When were you expecting your contract to come up for renewal otherwise? Or is the notion of it being fixed term more of a thing that seemed to emerge since you were diagnosed?

    If there was a definite agreed renewal date, then either party is free to not renew at that point, so it is different from an open ended contract, where you might have unfair dismissal rights.

    But of course its another matter if 'Bob' has brought forward the end date of any fixed term contract, in which case there may be a compensation argument re the remaining term.

    But if the work still there to be done - eg if a replacement is sought - and you have a perfectly satisfactory performance to date, you might normally have expected the contract to have been renewed.

    There may then be additional recourse for "disability discrimination" under the Equalities Act. For these purposes being in recovery from cancer counts as a "disability"

    A range of handy links can be found on our sister site, Maggies Cancerlinks here .

    The Citizens Advice website has lots of useful information on employment rights here - just alter the country to the home nation in which you live as there are some differences.

    Macmillan offer some specific advice from a cancer perspective here both for you as an employee but for employers too.

    Sometimes its not sheer malice and more panic during periods of absence, lack of understanding of the risks, uncertainty as to how to imagine reasonable adaptions and a failure to think taht with a little flexibility cancer survivors can be the best employees they might wish for. 

    While not an expert on employment law, I can certainly offer specialist support on benefit matters.

    So if you would like a chat about any benefit issues either while away from work or that can help as you ease back into work, then please feel free to message me.

    But it would be great if others can share experiences both good and bad of the reactions of employers to cancer

    Best wishes,


  • From Anonymous
    21 April 2017 at 14:16

    What a two-faced, cowardly b****** Bob is!

    I think that you should get some professional advice, such as from Citizens Advice Bureau. Even without a written contract, you may well find that you are considered to be an employee of the company, and therefore entitled to some form of notice or redundancy payments. You should keep all records of your employment, such as, payslips, P60's, correspondence etc. If you have nothing in writing, you could ask for a copy of the fixed term contract for your records - then go back and ask for a copy of the one you signed. I'm guessing that they don't have one, so they may be unable to prove that you were on a fixed-term contract! 

    However, without knowing your circumstances, my guess would be that it probably wouldn't entitle you to very much. So whether it's worth pursuing, given your current situation, only you can decide, but get some advice first.

    Hope your treatment goes well.

    All The Best


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