Workplace issues

If you are employed or hope to return to work after treatment, you might wonder how cancer will affect your work life. You may be concerned about your leave entitlements, discrimination, changing your working hours, or unfair dismissal. Some of the issues described here differ between states and territories, and they may depend on the industry you work in. You may need to obtain specific advice about your situation from a lawyer who specialises in employment matters.

For more on this, see Cancer, work and you.

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Taking leave

All full-time employees except casuals are entitled to a minimum of 10 days of paid personal leave each year. This leave can be taken when you are unwell or need to care for an immediate family member. Part-time employees receive this entitlement on a pro rata basis. Employees can take as much personal leave as they have accumulated, though your employer can ask you to provide evidence of your illness.

If you need to take more time off, you may be able to combine personal leave with annual leave or long service leave, or ask your manager if you can take unpaid leave. For more information about your leave entitlements and what to do if you are prevented from taking leave you have a right to, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman.


In general, discrimination in the workplace due to cancer and treatment is unlawful. This includes denying you a promotion, demoting you to a lower paid job, sacking you or refusing to hire you for a reason related to your cancer.

If you think you’re being discriminated against, try talking with your employer and follow your workplace’s grievance handling policy. If you’re not happy with the response, you can lodge a formal complaint with the discrimination agency in your state or territory or the Australian Human Rights Commission.

If you have been dismissed from your job or experienced other disadvantage due to your cancer diagnosis, you may also be able to lodge a complaint with the Fair Work Commission.

Contact these organisations to see which one is most appropriate for your situation before you lodge a complaint. Most complaints are resolved through mediation or conciliation, which is an informal type of resolution. If mediation doesn’t work, you may go to an administrative tribunal or to court for a legal judgment that must be followed.

Special arrangements

Australian laws require an employer to take reasonable steps to accommodate the effects of an employee’s illness and help you perform your job. They can only refuse your request to provide these arrangements if the changes would cause unjustifiable hardship to their business or, in some cases, on reasonable business grounds.

Some examples of flexible working arrangements are:

  • making minor changes to your work duties
  • allowing you to work from home some or all days
  • providing you with additional equipment
  • allowing you to vary your hours, work part-time or job share.

If your employer refuses your request, you may be able to seek assistance from the Fair Work Ombudsman, Fair Work Commission or the discrimination agency in your state or territory.

Unfair dismissal

An employer can’t pressure you to resign or dismiss you because you have cancer. If you have been dismissed from your job, you may be able to lodge an unfair dismissal claim with the Fair Work Commission. You must lodge claims within 21 days of being dismissed and meet some other conditions (see for eligibility requirements).

State and territory discrimination agencies

ACT Human Rights Commission

Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW

Northern Territory Anti- Discrimination Commission

Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland

Equal Opportunity Commission (SA)

Equal Opportunity Tasmania

Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission

Equal Opportunity Commission (WA)

Click on the icon below to download a PDF booklet on cancer care and your rights.

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Instructions for downloading and reading EPUB files

Apple devices

The iBooks application must be installed on your Apple device before you can read the EPUB.
Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

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To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
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Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

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Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
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Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.

This information was last reviewed in June 2019
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