- Cancer Information
- Practical concerns
- Cancer, work and you
- For workers
- Key questions about cancer and work
- What details should I tell my employer?
What details should I tell my employer?
What you tell your employer will depend on how much you want to share, your workplace and the relationship you have with your employer. You may want to let your employer know whether you:
- will be able to continue working (and for how long)
- need to take time off work (and when you are likely to return)
- will be able to perform all of your job duties
- want other people in your workplace to know
- need any workplace adjustments.
You may need to wait until you’ve started treatment or see how cancer affects you to know your ability. Things may also change. You may have unexpected side effects or need more time off than planned. You do not need to share all the details of your illness with your employer. You only need to tell them about anything that may affect your ability to work or cause a health and safety risk for yourself or others. This may include your exposure to viruses like COVID-19 if you are immunocompromised.
Can my employer dismiss me because I have cancer?
Discrimination in the workplace due to cancer and its treatment is illegal. This includes stopping you taking leave, offering you a more junior role or dismissing (firing, sacking) you, for a reason related to having cancer. There are limited reasons your employer can take certain action (e.g. when you can’t perform the main part of your job). If you are unsure how your employer will react, know your rights and your employer’s responsibilities.
Podcast for people affected by cancer
Brooke Russell, Principal Occupational Therapist, WA Cancer Occupational Therapy, WA; Bianca Alessi, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Dr Prunella Blinman, Medical Oncologist, Concord Cancer Centre, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, NSW; James Chirgwin, Physiotherapist, The Wesley Hospital, QLD; Danielle Curnoe, Consumer; Simon Gates, Barrister, Tasmanian Bar, TAS; Justin Hargreaves, Medical Oncology Nurse Practitioner, Bendigo Health Cancer Centre, VIC; Kaylene Jacques, Director, People and Communications, Cancer Council NSW; Alex Kelly, Senior People Attraction Advisor, Human Resources, Allianz Australia Insurance, NSW; Legal reviewer; Georgina Lohse, Social Worker, GV Health, VIC; Lesley McQuire, Consumer, Cancer Voices NSW.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.