- Cancer Information
- Practical concerns
- Cancer, work and you
- For workers
- Key questions about cancer and work
- How can my employer support me?
How can my employer support me?
Under Australian law, cancer is considered a disability. If you cannot perform your usual work duties, the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992 requires your employer to make changes to the workplace so you can keep working. These changes are known as reasonable adjustments.
An employer can refuse your request to make changes only if the changes would cause unjustifiable hardship to their business or, in some cases, on reasonable business grounds. Learn more about your workplace rights.
Changes could be to your duties, workspace or hours, and they could be temporary or long term. You and your employer can discuss ideas for possible changes. Your health care team may also have useful suggestions.
Reasonable adjustments could include:
- extra breaks because of pain or fatigue, or to attend medical appointments
- temporary duties as agreed, reduced hours, flexitime, working from home, part-time work or a gradual return to work
- changes to the workspace such as a more suitable chair, height-adjustable desk or counter, or ergonomic work tools
- providing new technology, such as voice-activated software, telephone headsets, a hearing loop or screen-reading software
- setting you up to use the National Relay Service on your computer, tablet, mobile phone or telephone typewriter (TTY). This service helps people who have a hearing or speech impairment to make phone calls. For more information, call 1800 555 660 or visit relayservice.gov.au.
Your employer can get advice, financial support and practical assistance to help support you from JobAccess, an Australian Government service. Call 1800 464 800.
Many employers also have employee support systems, such as rehabilitation and retraining programs, or an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that offers free, confidential counselling. Another option may be a buddy or mentoring system with someone else in your workplace who has had cancer. Your co-workers can offer advice or help you liaise with management. How any buddy or mentoring system is arranged is up to you and your employer.
Kerryann White, Manager, People and Culture, Cancer Council SA; Nicola Martin, Principal, McCabe Curwood, NSW; Jane Auchettl, Coordinator, Education and Training Programs, Cancer Council Victoria; Craig Brewer, Consumer; Alana Cochrane, Human Resources Business Partner, Greater Bank Newcastle, NSW; Shona Gates, Senior Social Worker, North West Cancer Centre, North West Regional Hospital, TAS; Dianne Head, Cancer Nurse Coordinator, Metastatic Breast Cancer, Crown Princess Mary Cancer Centre Westmead, NSW; Alex Kelly, Talent Acquisition Business Partner, Aon, NSW; Prof Bogda Koczwara AM, Senior Staff Specialist, Department of Medical Oncology, Flinders Medical Centre, SA; Sharyn McGowan, Occupational Therapist, Bendigo Health, VIC; Jeanne Potts, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria; Michelle Smerdon, Legal and Financial Support Services Manager, Cancer Council NSW. We would also like to than the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.