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- Working during treatment and recovery
Working during treatment and recovery
If you want to work during treatment or return to work after treatment, you may consider flexible ways of working or using leave entitlements.
Learn more about:
- Flexible ways of working
- Tips for flexible work arrangements
- Leave entitlements
- Am I entitled to workers compensation?
Flexible ways of working
If you have been with your employer continuously for 12 months and have a disability such as cancer, you have the right to ask for flexible working arrangements under the National Employment Standards.
Long-term casual employees may also ask for flexible working arrangements. For more detailed information, visit fairwork.gov.au.
Some examples of flexible ways of working include:
- working from home some or all days
- reducing your hours, or changing your start, finish or break times
- working from another office or suitable location
- varying your hours, split shifts, working part-time or job sharing
- asking not to work certain days or times if you are a casual worker
- working alternative duties, or avoiding certain aspects of your role.
An occupational therapist can identify flexible ways of working for you to suggest to your employer, and help you liaise with them. You must make a request in writing, detailing the changes needed and why. Changes should be reasonable and workable for you and your employer.
Your employer can only refuse your request if they have first discussed it with you and genuinely tried to reach an agreement about changing your working arrangements to accommodate your circumstances.
Your employer must accept or refuse your request in writing within 21 days. They can refuse your request on reasonable business grounds or not agree to all your requests. If your employer refuses your request and you don’t think their explanation is reasonable, you may be able to get help from the Fair Work Commission or anti-discrimination agency in your state or territory.
After a few weeks of the new schedule, talk to your manager or HR officer to see if the flexible arrangements are working for you both. You might want to change things if treatment is affecting you more than you thought, or as you feel better and can take on more work.
Tips for flexible work arrangements
- If possible, take a few hours off instead of the whole day.
- Try to schedule treatment sessions so you have more recovery time (e.g. late in the day or before your days off).
- Try working from home. Not having to commute may help you feel less tired.
- Write down the plan you and your employer have agreed on, and then both sign it.
- Let co-workers know about changes to your work hours.
- If you feel overwhelmed, don’t let your performance suffer too much before reassessing your work arrangements.
- Look for tools to help you work remotely. You could use a smartphone to get your emails, copy files to the cloud, or use a laptop.
With the support of my family and workplace, I was able to schedule the radiation therapy appointments before work.Christine
Podcast: Coping with a cancer diagnosis
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.
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