Returning to work after cancer treatment

You may be concerned about how your employer and colleagues will react, and if there will be questions about your ability to perform your usual role.

You may consider returning to work gradually, increasing your hours and duties as you become stronger, or you may feel ready to resume your old workload.

All employers are legally required to take reasonable steps to accommodate the effects of an employee’s illness – see Workplace rights. This may mean, for example, that your employer allows you to return to work in stages, is flexible with start and finish times, gives you time off to attend medical appointments, or provides a supportive chair.

It’s a good idea to speak with your doctor about your capacity to undertake your usual tasks. Your employer can request a medical examination to show you are fit for work, but does not have the right to request full unrestricted access to your medical records.

Learn more about:

Does my employer have to take me back?

Your employer must allow you to return to work if you:

  • have a medical certificate saying you’re fit to return to work
  • can perform the inherent requirements of your job with reasonable adjustments to the workplace.

Your employer may not have to accommodate the effects of your illness if they can show that any proposed adjustments would result in ‘unjustifiable hardship’ to the organisation.

If you are unable to carry out your previous role, your employer may offer a rehabilitation scheme to train you for another role. Your employer is only required to offer you a different role if the cancer is work-related.

Job in Jeopardy Assistance is a free government service for people in danger of losing their job because of illness, injury or disability. The program can help with a workplace assessment, job redesign or specialised equipment to help you stay with your current employer. See for more information.

Preparing to return to work

  • Do things that are part of a healthy lifestyle – exercise regularly, eat healthy foods, do enjoyable activities, and take time for yourself each day.
  • Live as if going to work – get up at your regular work time, dress in your work clothes, practice travelling to work, and do tasks similar to your work tasks.
  • Get help becoming work ready – see an exercise physiologist, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, or rehabilitation specialist.

Making a return to work plan

When you are ready to return to work, contact your employer about preparing a return to work plan. A return to work plan is a helpful document prepared by you, your doctor and your employer (or a rehabilitation professional) outlining your approach to returning to work.

The plan is tailored to your specific situation and needs, and is reviewed regularly.

The following may be included in your written return to work plan:

  • your job title and location
  • approximate date of return to work
  • time period of the plan
  • your goals and abilities
  • a summary of duties
  • start, finish and break times
  • any specific restrictions or recommendations as stated by your health care team
  • any short-term changes to your terms and conditions of employment (e.g. leave, remuneration) as a result of your rehabilitation
  • any training needs
  • any potential triggers within your role that could create additional stress, harm or prevent your recovery
  • details of the supervisors
  • or managers responsible for monitoring progress of the return to work plan
  • dates of regular meetings to discuss progress and adjustments to the plan if needed.

To find out more, see the Australian Government’s JobAccess website or WorkSafe NSW.

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Apple devices

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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.
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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 January 2017
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